Archive | July, 2011

“The Priest says quietly”

31 Jul

Among the newly translated prayers of the Mass, this one is for the priest: “May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy.” Later the priest prays, “May the Body of Christ … the Blood of Christ … keep me safe for eternal life.” Lovely!

Twelve times in the Mass the priest speaks “quietly” or “in a low voice.” For the record, nine times he speaks quietly, two times in a low voice, and one time quietly or in a low voice, depending on whether or not a deacon is present.

The priest prays in a low voice during the preparation of the gifts, when he places the paten with the bread on the altar, and when he places the chalice of wine on the altar.

If a deacon is proclaiming the Gospel, the priest prays in a low voice, as he blesses the deacon, “May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well.” If a deacon is not present, the priest, bowing before the altar, says a prayer quietly.

There are nine other times that the priest says something quietly: (1) when kisses the book at the end of the Gospel, (2) when he pours wine and a little water into the chalice, (3) when he bows profoundly at the altar before he washes his hands, (4) when he washes his hands, (5) when he breaks the host over the paten, and places a small piece in the chalice, (6) when he prepares to receive communion, (7) when he consumes the Body of Christ, (8) when he consumes the Blood of Christ, and (9) when he purifies the paten and chalice after communion. 

No Spiritual Disneyland, Please

30 Jul

What do Disneyland and the Coliseum have in common? They were images used at two-day conference on the fate of Christians in the Holy Land that was held in London earlier this month, co-sponsored by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, noted that, because of the dwindling number of Christians, the Holy Land is becoming a “spiritual Disneyland” – full of glittering rides and attractions, but empty of its indigenous Christian population. French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, representing Pope Benedict, said, “What we have to avoid is that the Holy Land becomes an archaeological and historical site to be visited like the Coliseum in Rome. We cannot even think that Bethlehem or the Holy Sepulcher should become museums with entrance tickets and guides who explain beautiful legends.”

Why do we care about Christians in the Holy Land? John Allen boils it down to two points: first, their survival is critical to Christianity’s identity; second, it’s a key to peace in the region, and therefore to peace in the world. Read his article in the National Catholic Reporter.

Mini-Vacations with Joe

29 Jul

Ever heard of Joe Paprocki? I hadn’t, until I stumbled on his book, “Practice Makes Catholic.” It looked like an easy read, so I took it with me on vacation. It was an easy read – and a good read. As a doctor practices medicine, and an attorney practices law, so a Catholic practices Catholicism. Joe has another one, “A Well-Built Faith.” Maybe I need another vacation!

He has a “free” webinar on the Loyola Press website, “What you need to know about the Roman Missal changes.” It is in three segments. It’s easy listening, with helpful charts and pretty pictures. You can take these mini-vacations at home at anytime you choose. Click here: Roman Missal Changes Webinar

My Friend, Pietro!

28 Jul

Slipping away from our group of pilgrims in 2000, Father Jim and I took a patriotic walk to the American consulate in West Jerusalem. From across the street, we watched guests coming out of the 4th of July bash, looking on as children not invited to a friend’s birthday party. Coming out of the consulate in a “relaxed” mood, and unable to convince the Marines at the gate to allow us in to eat the scraps that had fallen from the table, the archbishop insisted that he and his driver give us a lift back to our hotel. On the way to the Notre Dame Center we chatted and laughed with ease, me sitting in the back seat with him, feeling so comfortable in his presence that I was, by the middle of the short ride home, patting him on the hands, referring to him as “my friend, Pietro!” Getting out of the car that had, by the archbishop’s insistence, pulled up on a sidewalk, so that we would not need to cross traffic, I gasped to Father Jim, “What just happened? That was Pietro Sambi, the Papal Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to the Palestinians.”

Two year later, my journal notes that it was September 20, visiting with some Christian friends and parish priests in Palestine, I asked the Palestinian young man and woman, who were my companions and escorts, to drive us to the Apostolic Delegation in East Jerusalem to see the Archbishop. With true Palestinian-Italian hospitality, he welcomed us into his home for juice, candy and conversation. He spoke of the Holy Father’s visit to the Holy Land, the challenges for the people and the churches of Israel and Palestine, the beauties of the American Church – and, with the warmth of a spiritual grandfather, he spoke with hope and encouragement to Vanda and Rudy, and more significantly, listened to them with affection and admiration in his eyes. We left the building with a rosary for my mother and a photo of our visit, and with that same “what just happened” expressions on our faces.

Archbishop Sambi, of good humor and great influence, was able to appreciate and join East and West. May he rest in peace, in the heavenly peace of which the angels sang on the first Christmas, for which he labored during his years in the Middle East, and for which the Christians in Bethlehem still long.            

Salaam, Shalom, Peace to you, my friend Pietro!

An Elevator Speech

27 Jul

I imagine pushing the “up” button, and hearing someone ask, “Hey, Father, what’s with this new Mass that’s coming in November?” We get into the elevator. I have less than two minutes, before one of us gets off. I’d better have an elevator speech ready. Maybe this one would work:

It’s the same Mass. It’s still going to be in English. It’s just a new English translation of the Mass that was given to the world in Latin – in Latin because it was given to the whole world – back in 1970. It’s the same Mass, just some new English words.

Some of the new words are really lovely. Some are closer to the words in the Bible. Some will make it more clear about what we believe. Some of the words will help us remember that the Mass is something special: we’ll use some words that we use only at Mass, words that we don’t use when we speak to each other in an elevator.

It is going to be a real good opportunity for us to fall in love with the Mass all over again.

Oops! This is my floor. 

Sometimes Gods Find Us

26 Jul

The latest Sunday Mass at St. Andrew is archived here: July 24, 2011. The homily is at minute 17:15 … The most important things in life, the things in life that matter most – sometimes we find them; sometimes they find us. There is  almost always an element of surprise, joy and commitment. Ask anyone about their spouse or best friend, “How did you meet?” Ask anyone about the work that they do or the school they attend, “How did you wind up in this job, at this high school, on the campus of this college?” Ask someone about a cause or a project about which they have such passion, “How did this involvement evolve?” In each story there will be an element of surprise, joy and commitment. Surprise: “I never expected to find it. It is so much more than I expected.” Joy: “I am so happy, contented, energized and encouraged. I didn’t know what I was missing.” Commitment: “I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it, to make it work and to pass it one.”     

Sometimes we find God. Sometimes God finds us. Sometimes God is discovered suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes after much searching. There is almost always an element of surprise, joy and commitment.

Focus With Two Eyes

25 Jul

Focus! That is important when taking photos, standing at the pulpit and creating a post for one’s blog. Every blog needs a focus, something about it that makes it different from others, something that brings people back, something that invites conversation (and referrals, of course).  

There will be many blogs about the implementation of the new English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. Mine will be among those that will deal with this topic, but from the perspective of a pastor in a small town. A unique focus and emphasis that my blog will have is that it will speak of the life and the struggles of the Christians in the Holy Land.

We will keep one eye on the people as they worship at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Milford. Each post about the new Missal will be accompanied by this photo.  

We will also keep an eye on the people as they struggle in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem) and in the rest of the Holy Land, in entries found with this photo.

The blog will also take occasional side trips and journeys elsewhere, but will always keep a religious, reflective and Catholic tone to it.

Filling in the Blanks

21 Jul

Although I was in awe of 3,148 people at the National Pastoral Musicians Convention making music in Louisville, the thing that really caught my attention was an empty book in the exhibit hall. Publishers can’t release the contents of the new Roman Missal until October 1, but they were showing the size of their books, the cover and paper quality, the tabs and ribbons. The beautifully bound and presented books looked like exquisite “writing journals” with a thousand-plus blank pages. 

Over the next years of praying and singing the Mass, anyone could use that empty book to record her moments of new appreciation and learning, her reflections on the new Mass prayers that are being given to us. A priest to be ordained next year could use it as his diary of priesthood, jotting down, from his first day at the altar, a theme sentence for every Sunday homily, and recording the names of every bride and groom: a new priest in the Church and a new Missal for the Church. An old guy like me, having used the current translation of the Missal since my ordination 36 years ago, could pray over and journal about each week’s new translation of prayers in preparation for the upcoming Sunday – and about each of the “new” Eucharistic Prayers, at the proper numbered tab, of course.

The new Roman Missal is mystery to us, so much about it still unknown and not yet experienced – like a beautifully bound book with empty pages, waiting for God to fill in the blanks.

Discernindo Uma Vocaçaõ

19 Jul

During the Mass for the jubilarians, among them my friend, Sister Adria Connors, the prayers of petition were spoken in Spanish, English, Bangla and Portuguese, so diverse in culture and language is their community. It was uplifting and refreshing to hear the Sisters of the Holy Cross pray “for those women who began their vocational journey in Holy Cross with us but are now serving in another form of mission.” Included in the prayer, too, were the novices, like the young Brazilian named Thais. (Pronounce her name in two syllables.) In her native language was the prayer for her: “por todas as mulheres que estão discernindo uma vocaçaõ à vido religiosa,” translated, “for all women who are discerning a vocation to religious life.”

Pray with me for Thais until we hear that either she has made her first profession or, having begun her vocational journey in Holy Cross, she is now serving in another form of mission. Choose to pray for Thais in English or in Portuguese – the choice is yours. She understands both, as does God.

Good Ground for Hope

19 Jul

At the jubilee Mass at St. Mary’s College, “my” Adria (golden jubilarian Sister Adria Connors) proclaimed the first of the scripture readings from the book of Wisdom: “Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

Given this “good ground for hope” and given that the motto of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is “Ave Crux Spes Unica,” translated “Hail to the Cross, Our Only Hope,” it is no surprise that we sang “Lift High the Cross” at the jubilee Mass – at which “my” Adria read.

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