This is a small idea, but one that was reinforced at Mass today during the Homily.
The priest said that he often has as least one person during his Marriage prep discussions call their mother1 to ask the when/where details about their Baptism. His point was that for such and important day in our lives, we know so little about it, and do so little to commemorate it.
This is another thing that PROTESTANTS do, that we as Catholics don’t. Now, before there are a million reasons thrown at me as to why it isn’t necessarily necessary2 let me just say that even conceding the unknown arguments in this vein against my premise, it still is something that we could do, and that might have some good spiritual gravity in our lives.
My wife and I for example said that we always wanted to make a “big deal” over Sacrament days, and name feast days. We have some friends that do it right, and just name their children after the “Saint of the Day” but we chickened out with our first, and with our second we chose not to go with “Saturnius.” That being said, we do celebrate the other days, and minimize overall birthdays. It isn’t so much that we don’t celebrate birthdays, we do make a “Big deal” of them to the extent we believe they should be, but we also don’t meet the standards to have our birthday celebrations meet the criteria for any reality shows.
The point I am so horribly trying to make is this: if our faith is important to us, and like the priest said today “What is better than the gift of faith, the gift of CHRIST?”, then why wouldn’t we want to focus on and emphasize those days that have spiritual importance in our lives?
So in a few days when our son’s baptism day is upon us, we will do SOMETHING, and even though our daughter’s baptism day is on another Sacrament day in our family, we will do something. We want to pass on the faith, and pass it on in a way that isn’t separate and distinct from who we are, but as an integral and everyday part of who we are.
While at Mass last evening the idea of preparation really came over me. I know that blogging can be a good and bad thing, for both bloggers and readers, but I know that sometimes being completely immersed in the faith is a helpful thing.
As an Advent preparation, I am going to attempt to blog once a day. Sometimes they will be short, and other times they will be a bit longer, but my hope is to once again have my faith in Christ be central to my family, and my own, journey through life.
Deacon Greg Kandra’s most recent blog post, has kicked up some hornets in the Catholic blogging world. I think that in the ever striving quest for politeness, sometimes people lose sight of what is really important. In the effort to be as charitable as possible, I dont want to insinuate that this is the case with Deacon Kandra, but suffice it to say his post struck me a little bit odd.
His post was a little troublesome to me because he said:
I find the idea of a verbal warning off-putting—but again, I don’t think I’ve ever heard something like this. In my experience of weddings and funerals, most non-Catholics are sophisticated enough to know there are restrictions on Catholic Communion; it’s not uncommon to see a sizable number of people in the pews stay put when others come up to receive.
Dr. Peters offered a better announcement that could be given at Mass:
A much better announcement would be something simple like “At this time, Catholics prepared to receive holy Communion may do so in the usual way.”
In the end, I think it is the duty of the Church to protect and preserve the TRUE PRESENCE – the Holy Eucharist, and that politeness needs to be a concern that comes after that.
Also, Dr. Peters’ 2nd point is one that is important to remember:
Second, one should NOT encourage, as an alternative to reception of Communion, “coming forward with arms crossed for blessing”. Receiving a blessing is not an “alternative” to receiving holy Communion (any more than being handed a raincoat in a hurricane is an ‘alternative’ to be admitted to a storm shelter) and, moreover, such a rite is an intrusion into the liturgy forbidden by Canon 846 § 1. I’ve addressed that liturgical abusehere.
So, Damian Thompson of the Telegraph has a rather interesting, but troubling, report about some moves that may be in the works in the Vatican:
I’m hearing horrible rumours from Rome that Archbishop Piero Marini, former master of ceremonies for John Paul II, may be made Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Please, Pope Francis, do not let this happen. The archbishop (not to be confused with the current Vatican MC, Mgr Guido Marini) devised some of the ugliest liturgies in Catholic history for John Paul II – and, moreover, was distinctly snide in his attitude towards Benedict XVI’s much-needed reforms. Even now, as Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith reports for the Catholic Herald, Archbishop Marini is taking veiled sideswipes at the last pope.
Benedict XVI, one need hardly be reminded, is still alive. What could be more wounding to him than the appointment of such a divisive figure to the Church’s top liturgical post? Does Pope Francis really wish to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy? Because there would be no quicker way of doing so than this disastrous move.
While for most people this is a little too “inside baseball” to really understand the impact a move like this would have, it is a troubling report.
A few thoughts:
Thompson is correct, if this indeed does happen, and while Pope Benedict is still alive it is a slap in the face to everything he did on the liturgical front.
It really is a step backwards in the truest sense of the word. It would put in charge of liturgical “policy”, if you will, a man that had a liturgical understanding that is not only quite different from what we have seen in recent years, but one that was at the heart of much of what was troubling and damaging to the Church in the time after Vatican II.
While I understand that Francis and Benedict have a very different liturgical “style” and understanding, this is not the way to magnify the differences. Francis seems to be doing a good job of clearing out the old in the Vatican, it doesn’t make sense to go in this direction, especially with someone that was so divisive even amongst like minded folks.
So the good Archbishop Vigneron continues to face opposition to his clear explanation of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Today, protestors marched outside of the Archdiocese of Detroit carrying banners and flags in support of “Gay-Marriage.” From HuffPost-Detroit:
Most of the people carrying signs and rainbow flags while marching slowly along the sidewalk in front of the Archdiocese of Detroit on Thursday afternoon didn’t fit the typical profile a church protester. A majority of the group of 30 or so sign-holders were in their 50s and much older — and they all called themselves Catholics.
Aside from the misstatement of what Archbishop Vigneron said, there is quite a bit of interesting tid-bits in this article.
The problem is not that these folks are protesting but that we have created a situation within the Church where the faithful believe their opinion is paramount. Or even, that the Archbishop’s opinion is the matter at hand.
The Church isn’t about opinion. It is about the ultimate Truth that is Jesus Christ.
Does the Church need to do a better job of communicating the Doctrine of the Church? Yes.
But this is true about marriage, contraception, co-habitation, social justice, abortion, families, education, and a lot of other things. The Church is pure truth in that it rests upon God. The people of the Church have faults as we all do. Reconciliation is a Sacrament because we all need to be forgiven for our faults. But what we can’t do, or expect, is that the Church will one day say, Sins are ok as long as you do most everything else we say.
Doctrine is a holistic inter-connected system of belief. It exists as a perfect puzzle of truth. Like a mathematical equation, we can’t simply pick and choose what parts we like and don’t and expect the answer to come out correct. Jesus certainly said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor. But it doesn’t end there, he finishes by saying that all the rest rely upon those. Meaning: yes, we must love and accept one another but acceptance doesn’t mean that we stop striving for truth.
Earlier this month, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron took the stance that Catholics who support gay marriage should not take Communion, sparking an uproar on both sides of the issue.
They freshened the story up by finding some new folks to quote. On the Catholic side of things, they have a statement from Jay McNally, former editor of the Michigan Catholic, now radio and political pundit, who said:
The Church can never, never change its stance on the man/woman relationship being the only kind of marriage there can be,” said Jay McNally, former Michigan Catholic editor. “What we need is good, sound teaching from the bishops, and that is what Vigneron was trying to do.
He is 100% right about the fact that we need good sound teaching from the bishops. The biggest problem in this overall equation is that the pewsitters have been left to fend for themselves amongst the wolves of the world and develop their own understanding of what the Church’s teaching on marriage is.
Many people have been left to their own devices to balance the scant theology they are taught, with the sometimes-obtuse social doctrine that many priests, so-called Catholic groups, and others preach when it comes to social justice, love, and acceptance.
That is not to say that these latter things are wrong, or that every priest, bishop, and Church program is problematic, but that systemically there are problems and holes.
These weak-spots if you will are the areas where people then take it upon themselves to blend social understand and doctrine.
Case-in-point, a quote from the same story from David Garcia, executive director of Affirmations, Michigan’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization:
The Archbishop is on the wrong side of history, which, in the context of the Vatican, should surprise no one.
I would suggest to Archbishop Vigneron that he concentrate on feeding and clothing the poor and nursing the sick and stay out of our bedrooms.
This statement isn’t a big shock when you see the group he represents, but the kicker comes when you see that the story informs that David was “raised Catholic.” The “feeding the poor, clothing the sick” rhetoric might not be a complete reference to Pope Francis, but instead is symbolic of a larger notion.
This sentiment, that the Church is antiquated socially, and off-track in its mission is not an uncommon one – unfortunately. The biggest perpetrator of this seems to be: former Catholics.
To lend support to my point a few more paragraphs from the article:
Same-sex marriage also holds majority support among Catholics, according to a March poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. The poll shows 54 percent of Catholic voters support it, while 38 percent oppose it. The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who plans to lead an LBGT-friendly service May 5 at Marygrove Chapel in Detroit, says Catholics have received some conflicting messages lately, citing a statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York.
‘When the people come, they are acknowledged as gay and lesbian people. But as Cardinal Dolan said, we want them to come to church. There are some priests who don’t agree with that. So either we do want them to come or we don’t,’ said Gumbleton.
As for LGBT individuals and supporters being told they can’t take communion, Gumbleton said, ‘Many are hurt that way.’
Now, Bishop Gumbleton is no stranger to this debate, or to controversy. In fact, he is the same Bishop that Archbishop Sample, then Bishop of Marquette, refused to allow to speak in the Diocese of Marquette due to Gumbleton’s failure to follow protocol and decision to speak on things which were highly-questionable.
Unfortunately, Bishop Gumbleton makes a comment like the one above, and people take that to be the Church’s stance – that some how Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Gumbleton are on two opposite sides of a coin, when in fact they aren’t, nor should they be.
For Archbishop Vigneron this was never, and will never, be about accepting homosexuals to Church, or even to Communion. Yet, when Bishop Gumbleton says that practicing homosexuals are “hurt” by being told not to take Communion, he is teaching contrary to the faith. As the Archdiocese has pointed out, if a person were to sin gravely, and then take Communion without contrite heart and confession – they too would would be committing the same wrong.
This isn’t solely about homosexual marriage, but about the teachings of the Church. It is about sin, doctrine, and the “Source and Summit” of Christian life – The Holy Eucharist.
We must have priests and bishops willing to be bold and courageous and stand up for all the teachings of the faith. To instruct the faithful in not only the position of the Church on things, but why it has that stance.
We must present the faith in a holistic way. That through all the teachings there is a continuity of Christ born unto the world, crucified, died, and resurrected. That there is ultimate truth which is the fabric of life, a truth that transcends politics, social structure, and even death.
But the Church can’t be about “issues.” It can’t speak to “Gay-Marriage” in a vacuum anymore than it should speak about “contraception” in a vacuum. Just as we can’t understand the Immaculate Conception aside from the true understanding of Jesus as both man and God.
The Church must be about faith, hope, and love. But with those things there must be continuity, truth, and honesty. We must be taught to understand things in entirety and not just the bits and pieces that are easiest, or least controversial. As a faith we can’t pick and choose what parishes ascribe to certain beliefs so as to create islands of he faith that are comfortable.
The Cross is not comfortable. It is hard, painful, and all consuming. As Jesus walked towards that Cross he fell and got back up again so as to ascend it for us and our failings. We do ourselves a disservice, but we insult his ascent on Calvary when we make the Cross about fitting our needs to His truth.
Yesterday my family and I went to a parish in the area that we had not been to yet. We have been living in our new city for 2.5 months now, and wanted to settle into a parish and establish “roots”, or something like them, as soon as possible. We have basically settled on a parish/community that celebrates Mass in the extraordinary form. Yet, because we have never had the opportunity to attend a parish with the Extraordinary form exclusively there are some “adjusts” and “growing pains” we are learning to deal with.
Fortunately, through our community and good networking fortune, we have tapped into a social circle fairly quickly. In doing so, we started asking some of the friends that don’t attend the extraordinary form Mass where they go. Because of the layout of the area, it makes sense that not everyone in the social circle attends the same place. Yet, one parish kept getting named as the Church that, “if I don’t go to…, we go here.” People didn’t relegate it to second place, more so it was an elevation to “I wish it were closer/had been that way when we moved/etc…” So we decided to check out what all the talk was about.
Instantly you could tell what folks were talking about. The Church itself wasn’t anything special, in fact it was… well, boring. But, what that did was lend itself to being a perfect canvass for the Sacred. What I mean is that the first thing my 3yo pointed out to me is that there were “tall candles like at Easter at the one Mass in the small church.” What she meant was that for Easter Mass in the Extraordinary Form, we had just acquired a full set of beautiful candlesticks. Six tall candles on the Altar, and who notices it? My 3yo.
From there things got better, a scola, altar boys in cassocks and surplices – nothing fancy, vestments that clearly spoke to those in attendance that the priest took his role seriously1 It was clear that there was an intentional decision on behalf of the pastor to do all of these things. There was purpose to everything.
The entire Mass things popped into my head, it drew me in to what we were all really there for.. the Holy Sacrifice.
As all of this was coming together in my mind, the homily is what really pushed me over the edge. He spoke of shepherds. He talked about how if men are never told to think about the priesthood, then few will become priests. He also said that if we knew of good men, good boys, that would make excellent husbands and excellent fathers – they then should be told to consider the priesthood. Because if they would not make good husbands or fathers – they should not then be priests. He did not say that if they are called, but that we, the people around them, see these traits in them and discern that.
While some may have arguments against this, I agree 100%. I do believe that priests and fathers/husbands are teachers, leaders and shepherds. We are working hard to shepherd our families to God, and hopefully towards heaven. In the end, I realized that he was right because of what I experienced at Mass. It was an intentional encounter, carefully prepared by a loving leader, hoping to guide and instruct us all towards Christ. It inspired me as a Catholic… but even more so as a father.
that is not to say that they were extravagant, but simply befitting the rest of the Liturgy. [↩]
There have been quite a few news reports and blog posts since Archbishop Vigneron made statements earlier in the week about the reception of Communion by supporters of “Gay-marriage.” I wanted to create a list for some that are hoping to get caught up on the matter.
I had a post half written and intended on finishing it this evening. Then I read Father Z’s blog and noticed that he wrote a post that essentially steals my thunder, which isn’t the first time.1 In his post he talks about something which I did not intend to write about, but that dovetails into this post quite well: Pope Francis purportedly read Romano Guarini, and wrote on his “Spirit of the Liturgy.”
An interesting factoid.
What I planned on writing in my post was how we are all very quick to pit Pope against Pope, and to even judge and weigh the early actions of Pope Francis; not only against our theological and canonical knowledge, but also against Benedict’s pontificate. It seems foolish that we would judge quite so harshly someone, and something, that is new and probably quite unexpected for all concerned.
The Catholic world is in an uproar right now. In fact, the AP posted a story: “Pope’s foot-wash a final straw for traditionalists.” The problem is focused on the Mandatum Mass, where there is an optional “foot washing” that can be done during the Mass by the priest. The Rubrics, which are supposed to be followed – because they exist, call for men’s feet to be washed.
Many Catholic blogs through the years have focused on this, again option, portion of the Mandatum and have written extensively, myself included. As I, and others, have said – the Rubrics are clear and priests should follow the Rubrics.
This isn’t to say that the Rubrics must say this, or that priests even elect to do this ceremony during the Mass.1 Some have gone so far as to argue that the foot-washing should remain men only because of its symbolic link to the priestly ministry. Yet, some others have argued that it isn’t that women’s feet shouldn’t be washed ever, but that the Rubrics say what they say, and therefore should be followed.
The issue is rather complex actually, because it touches upon several areas, and layers, of Church law. No one better than Dr. Ed Peters can break down a complex issue, and speak about it in a way that educates, analyzes, and charitably explains it in the simplest of ways. So when I was his post on this issue I was reminded of just how well he does exactly that.
A part I found to be the most well said, really affects both traditionally minded Catholics that are full of anxiety due to the Pope’s actions, and those that are attempting to argue that it means more than it probably does. Peters says:
A pope’s ignoring of a law is not an abrogation of the law but, especially where his action reverberated around the world, it seems to render the law moot. For the sake of good order, then, the Mandatum rubrics should be modified to permit the washing of women’s feet or, perhaps upon the advice of Scriptural and theological experts, the symbolism of apostolic ministry asserted by some to be contained in the rite should be articulated and the rule reiterated. What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
I get the feeling everyone is so busy pigeonholing the Pope, scrutinizing everything he does or says, measuring him according to their preconceived notions on what and how he is supposed to be doing things, that they are hardening their hearts and not listening to what the Holy Spirit is doing or saying.
Unfortunately, that is probably true. Although, I do agree with Peters, that the best thing to do is keep with the Rubrics, or to change them and provide Catechesis.
Not to compare the brother Popes, but what Benedict always did well, was to provide Catechesis for any changes or reforms. We knew exactly what and why.
Lex orandi, lex credendi.
In fact, I have pondered whether the ceremony might be done prior to the Mass, for many reasons, as are other various rites for certain occasions. [↩]
I’m “all in” when it comes the Latin Mass, but I am also “all in” when it comes to the Pope. I didn’t leave the Anglican priesthood to pretend to be my own Pope once again only this time in the Catholic Church.
I am enthusiastic about Pope Francis? To be honest, I don’t know very much about His Holiness. Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m not as excited as I would have been if Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Ranjith had walked out on that balcony yesterday. Those who read this blog daily know that my heart and my reputation was set on Burke. Oh well. I’m not God. I was way off the mark. Still, the Holy Father Francis has my filial devotion and obedience.
Let’s give His Holiness some time. Let’s pray for him. If you’re really worried, don’t log on to a blog combox. Fast on bread and water, pray the Rosary more, go to confession more regularly, give alms to the poor, etc.
As I have started to write about, there is some sort of division that is brewing amongst some Catholic faithful. It seems that some Catholics that were not fans of Pope Benedict’s liturgical reforms have found a way to drive a wedge between him and Pope Francis. The wedge is ‘the poor’ or social justice in general.
Instead of talking about redoubling our efforts to ensure that we are living lives of service, some high ranking Catholics in the institutional Church as well as the media have started this narrative. At first it seemed to be an undercurrent but it has now popped up in a major way.
I have a more lengthy post that I am trying to write about the “Battle” going on currently in the blogosphere over who Pope Francis is, and how various “groups” within the Church view him as our new Pope.
While doing so I ran across an image that I pray will become the reality of his Papacy. Now, I don’t believe we really know what his Papacy will be like as it is much, much too early. That being said, folks are laying down their money and placing their bets.
In a perfect world, Pope Francis would maintain a line of continuity with the past two Popes and become a piece of the overall puzzle. The following picture is my hope for the pontificate of Pope Francis: