Friday, December 30, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Among her achievements was to get the Secular Franciscan Order recognized as an equal, and valuable part of the Franciscan Movement, and became the first Secular Franciscan to join the Conference of the Franciscan Family, with the other Ministers General. She also promulgated the revised SFO Constitutions in 2001.
A true servant of God, and daughter of Saint Francis, she will be missed.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
According to the reports, the local parishes will be organized into collaborative groups, sharing resources and staff, under one pastor. Redundant staff members could be laid off, and theoretically the group could decide to close a church to conserve resources.
Members of the Council of Parishes, an organization dedicated to preventing the closing of parishes, has already denounced the plan. They claim that the implementation of this reorganization could lead to the closing of hundreds of parishes. Some are accusing Cardinal Sean O’Malley of defying the Vatican, which recently prevented a local diocese from closing church buildings.
First, the exact details of the plan have not been released. Priests of the Archdiocese are to be briefed next week, and then the laity. Second, we cannot continue the same path we have been, hoping to keep all parishes opened, all parishes independent. The Catholic Church in Boston does not have the finances or the clergy to do that. This challenging situation requires thinking outside the box, new solutions. The experience of Catholic community must never remain static, but evolves in response to changing times. As long as the local communities, whatever their makeup, their shape, are united with their bishop, the Catholic Church lives.
I hope I can keep myself open to these changes, that the Holy Spirit will help me see the Father’s will in what is about to happen. And that I always remember that, no matter where we are, what community I eventually belong to, we are all united in the Body of Christ.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
After they had placed their food on the stone, Francis looked at the scene, sighed and said to Masseo that they had so much to be thankful for; they were not worthy of such great gifts. Masseo thought that Francis had been in the sun too long. Here they were, sitting in an open field; no table or place settings; and only with just enough bread to keep hunger at bay. Francis replied that they should be thankful, for everything they had, the bread, the stone that was their table, the brook that would provide their drink; this all came not from their efforts, but from God, their Father.
The Father, in great ways and small, continues to show His love for us. He helps us through the bad times, helps us see the beauty, the good at all times in our lives. So let us be thankful.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The National Catholic Reporter’s website provides a link to a commentary on the Baltimore Sun’s website; Baltimore is the city which is hosting a meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The commentator, Francis X. Doyle, who was formerly with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, makes the observation that while Americans are going through the stresses of massive unemployment, home foreclosures, and national uncertainty, the bishops are not addressing any of these issues at their national meeting.
Now, I would make the observation that while the issues being discussed by the bishops are important, the people need their pastors, their shepherds to speak words of comfort, of hope to them. The last thing they need is to have their immediate concerns ignored by the very men charged with caring for them.
Catholic laity’s opinion of the US bishops is slowly beginning to improve. The bishops risk losing that growing goodwill if they fail to address what is worrying most of American Catholic families, right now.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
It is perhaps a sign of how much regard the Vatican has for Cardinal O’Malley that Vatican Insider reported that he was the first American bishop to be received by the Pope, and that the meeting was held three days ahead of schedule.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This day, the Church recognizes and celebrates all those unknown Saints who may have walked amongst us. All of us are called to a life of holiness, all of us struggle to achieve that goal. There are many individuals in the history of the Church who have achieved that goal, unrecognized by our Christian community; but are known by God. By their intercession, may we receive the grace to also finish the race, to reach the goal.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
“What good is it; my brothers, if someone say he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17)“Francis sympathized lovingly and compassionately with those stricken with any physical affliction and he immediately referred to Christ the poverty or deprivation he saw in anyone. He was kind and gentle by nature and the love of Christ merely intensified this. His soul melted at the sight of the poor or infirm and where he could not offer material assistance he lavished his affection.” (Bonaventure, Major Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Chap. 8, Para. 5)
Sometimes, something has to be reported on television before it really grabs you. This happened to me today. I have glanced at the stories being reported by the National Catholic Reporter, from the survey they helped sponsored concerning Catholics in America. What I missed was a fact reported by the television program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly; that 60% of American Catholics believe that you do not have to donate anything to help the poor, nor work for the poor, and still can consider yourself a “good” Catholic!
Now I really went ballistic over this. If one looked at the tradition of the Church; if one examines the lives of a majority of Catholic saints, I believe, one sees a constant theme of how important service to the poor is in the life of the Church. And I do not mean just the charitable institutions of the Church, I mean the entire community of believers. If one believes in Jesus Christ, one follows the teachings Jesus Christ, to love God with all our heart and soul; and to love our neighbors. And that does not just mean our middle class neighbors, it means all of them, poor, disabled, and foreigner.
We are called to share the love of Christ we experience through the Eucharist with everyone we come in contact, by any means at our disposal. By our words and actions, we are to show to the world the power of the Gospel we preach. If we cannot live the faith we believe in, each of us individually, then that faith is truly dead. And the world will cast us aside.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Earlier this week, we celebrated the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. What came to my mind was a story in the Little Flowers of St. Francis, in which Brother Masseo asks Francis, "Why does the world come after you?" Francis responded that people came after him because they saw how the power of God's love could work such miracles through such a poor, ignorant, sinful man like himself. It was the example of his life, this witness to God's grace working in a very human person that drew people to Francis.
What draws people to St. Francis today? For some, it might be the stories about Francis, others may have read the Francis comic book, and others may have seen a movie about him. Most, however, have been drawn to Francis because of the example given by the lives of Friars, Poor Clares, Third Order Regular Brothers and Sisters, and, hopefully, those Secular Franciscans they have come in contact with. This is the responsibility that all of us who call ourselves Franciscan share, to keep the spirit of Francis alive and fresh in our world today. We do this by reading and reflecting on his words, on his life, then seeing how we can apply his example to our own struggle to live the Gospel life.
We have a spiritual legacy to be proud of and to celebrate. If that legacy is to last through the 21st Century and beyond, we cannot be complacent. We need to allow Francis to continue challenge us to go farther, strive higher, and go deeper in our life with God.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Now when I heard about this policy, I got ill. Yes, I know canonically, bishops and pastors have the power to designate who can be altar servers, but to deny girls that honor is unwise, and reinforces the world view that women are second class members of the Church. And keep in mind that a majority of those who are active in the social, educational and charitable life of the Church are women. And that the majority of persons attending Mass are women.
In Scripture, we are told by St. Paul that in Christ there is neither male nor female. The Council Fathers of Vatican II have told us that all the baptized share in the priesthood of Christ, and all are called to actively participate in the Eucharist. Yes, each has their own unique role in that worship, but I do not see any valid theological reason to restrict the role of altar server to only males. And despite what some bishops and pastors may say, this is a matter of justice within the Church.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
O glorious prince St. Michael,
chief and commander of the heavenly hosts,
who turn to you with confidence
Monday, September 26, 2011
On Saturday, September 24th, 2011, my fellow classmates and I were installed as Acolytes. It is a step in our formation for the Permanent Diaconate. The ceremony took place during the celebration of the Eucharist at the Bethany Chapel, in the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center. The celebrant was Auxiliary Bishop Hennessy. Our families and friends were present; I had the opportunity to present the Cup to my mother, so that she could receive the Blood of Christ. Overall, it was a very moving, and grace full day.
The following is a description of the office of Acolyte:
Unless they have already done so, candidates for ordination as deacons or priests are to receive the ministries of reader and acolyte and are to exercise them for a suitable time, in order to be better disposed for the future service of the word and altar.
The acolyte is appointed in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is his duty therefore to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and priest in the liturgical celebrations, especially the celebration of Mass; he is to distribute communion as a special minister.
In the same extraordinary circumstances an acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing, but not with blessing the people. He may also, to the extent needed, take care of instructing other faithful who on a temporary basis are appointed to assist the priest of deacon in liturgical celebrations by carrying the missal, cross, candles, etc., or by performing other such duties. He will perform these functions more worthily if he participates in the Holy Eucharist with increasingly fervent devotion, receives nourishment from it, and deepens his knowledge of it.
As one set aside in a special way for the service of the altar, the acolyte should learn all matters concerning public divine worship and strive to grasp their inner spiritual meaning; in that way he will be able each day to offer himself entirely to God, be an example to all by his gravity and reverence in church, and have a sincere love for the mystical body of Christ, the people of God, especially for the weak and the sick.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
For me, this is a very sad turn of events. For me, receiving Holy Communion through just the Host, or both the Host and the Cup, have both been very meaningful, spiritual experiences for me. I have to be honest though, and say that I prefer to be able to receive both the Body and the Blood of my Lord Jesus. It just makes my experience of Eucharist that much more powerful.
One of the reasons given by the Diocese of Phoenix for the change was that wanted to protect the Eucharist from “profanation.” Now my parish has offered the opportunity to receive the Eucharist under both species for about twenty years; and never have I seen any disrespect for the Sacrament. Now have there been accidents, I am sure there have been, ministers of communion are human, recipients are human. That should not the reason to deny the faithful the regular opportunity to receive both the Body and Blood of Christ. Parishes need to insure that extraordinary ministers of communion are properly trained.
One can speculate how much support Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix has from the laity for this change; or whether he cares. It will be interesting to see if there is any blowback from the Catholics of Phoenix, or will they quietly submit.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times?’” (Matthew 18: 21-22)
Some may say it is ironic, others would say it is the Spirit of God speaking to us; that the above readings were part of the Liturgy of the Word for the Eucharist celebrated today; September 11th.
It has been 10 years since the terrorist attacks on this country, ten years since we saw the World Trade Center in New York, ablaze and then collapsing into a large heap of rubble. Ten years since we saw the Pentagon on fire, with wounded victims walking across its lawn. Ten years since we saw a smouldering hole in a Pennsylvania field, where an airplane whose passengers had struck back against the terrorists, had crashed. And ten years since we saw crowds in the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries dancing in the streets over the attacks.
There was much grief over the deaths of the victims, sadness for the victim’s families, and anger at the terrorists and those who support them. This desire for vengeance; the desire, the need, to strike back has involved us in two wars which are still being fought. It has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion of anyone who is of different culture or different faith. We live in a country where Arabic-American citizens are looked upon with suspicion, where hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.
Against this background, we have the above readings ringing in our ears, prodding us, challenging us to let go of our hatreds, to learn to forgive. And this is not easy, but to follow Jesus is never easy. God calls us to forgive, not for the good of those who harmed us, but for our own salvation. The longer we let hatred fester within us, the easier it will be for us to lose the power to love as Christ has commanded us to love.
So let us accept the challenge, let us begin to cultivate forgiveness in our hearts, so that love will ultimately blossom across the world.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
“The Lord says: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and blame you (Mt. 5:44). That person truly loves his enemy who is not upset at any injury which is done to himself, but out of love of God is disturbed at the sin of the other’s soul. And let him show his love for the other by his deeds.” (Admonition IX)
Taken from Francis and Clare, The Complete Works, Paulist Press
Sunday, August 28, 2011
I was only 15 years old when he died, assassinated in Memphis TN. It was only during my seminary years that I began to appreciate what he accomplished for civil rights, not just for Black Americans, but for all minorities. He showed what power non-violent protest and action could have. He showed what could be accomplished when you treated opponents, even violent opponents, as fellow human beings. In many ways he reminds me of another famous preacher, of St. Francis of Assisi, who would walk amidst the warring factions of an Italian city, preaching peace; and who call a Muslim sultan a brother.
We live now in times when protests about injustices in society either turn violent, or are met with state sponsored violence. We are becoming a society where civil discourse about issues is no longer seen as "in," and name calling and yelling is becoming part of politics. Never has there been such a need for the spirit of Doctor King, the spirit of Francis.
I have an image in my mind, of two individuals, one a black man dressed in a dark suit, the other a small white man in a tattered brown robe, walking on a road to Washington, DC, ready to preach to power, ready to preach peace.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Boston news media, including Boston.com, reported on the issuance of the list and the reactions of various parties who have been involved in the effort to bring the clergy abuse scandal to light, and to prevent any such abuse from happening again. The reactions of some Massachusetts politicians, local advocates for sex abuse victims, and church reformers were not positive.
The truth of the matter is that no matter what Cardinal Sean did, he would not have been able to satisfy everyone. One faction would say he did not go far enough, that there are additional names that should have been released. The other faction would say that Cardinal Sean went too far, that he sacrificed the reputations of priests to satisfy a vengeance hungry mob. I have read what I feel is two good analysis’s of Cardinal Sean’s actions, one by Michael Sean Winters, the other by John Allen, Jr., both columnists and bloggers for the National Catholic Reporter.
I belong to the Archdiocese of Boston, and like many local Catholics, I was upset and angry when the scandal first broke so many years ago. I angry over the fact that there were priests who abusing children, I became angrier when I learned that these acts were being covered up by the bishops. It has been because of the cover up that advocates of the abused want all the names of accused priests made public. I have been uncomfortable with this demand. I am one of those people who believe in the legal ideal that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I understand the need many feel to bring to light all those who may have abused children, but is the price worth it if at least one innocent priest’s reputation is destroyed forever.
Beginning with the Dallas Charter, I do believe that there have been good faith efforts by many American bishops to prevent future child abuse by clergy, and to bring to light those who have abused in the past, Cardinal Sean being one of them.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I am both sad, confused and angry about this. Sad that the clergy abuse problem continues, and sad that it now includes deacons. Confused on how men who are supposedly formed to serve the poor and powerless, could do such things to children. Angry that the church still cannot seem weed out the "bad apples," through proper evaluation.
St. Stephen and St. Lawrence, pray for us.
Friday, August 12, 2011
“Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.”
St. Clare of Assisi
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The reason for the creation of this document is the number of dioceses that have been closing parishes, and the controversy it causes in the Catholic community, and the economic impact it has on the American dioceses. It is being reported that one possible recommendation is that while a parish may be closed, the church itself could be maintained by a responsible lay family or group, with a priest coming in to celebrate Sunday Mass.
This could be a partial solution for the situation that exists here in the Archdiocese of Boston. There have been churches of closed parishes that have been occupied for years by former parishioners, who refuse to let go of their church. But a parish is more than a church, it is a community of clergy and laity, active in charitable works, a place where persons, child or adult, is formed in the faith. And most importantly, it is a community that comes together and encounters Christ in the Eucharist. We are seeing now, and will see in the future, that some parishes will no longer have the resources, either in people or finances. All bishops and parish communities will have to face that fact, and address it.
Hopefully, the guidelines that will come out from Rome, will provide a common structure and procedure that could lessen the pain, the sense of loss, that people feel when a parish is closed.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
My heart goes out to these people; my own parish was threatened with closure. It was averted only because we made a strong case for keeping it open. But I also realize that times are changing, just recently a report was issued, showing that soon there will not be enough priests to service all the existing parishes. That there will be fewer, bigger parishes, or, as the Archdiocese is exploring, a cluster of churches under one pastor and staff.
There is no question that the past closure of parishes in the Archdiocese was poorly planned and executed. Any future “reconfiguration,” must be based on a clear set of criteria, the process must be open and transparent, with public input from the laity.
The sad truth is that some parishes will have to be merged or merged for the health of the Catholic community of greater Boston. And there is nothing in the short term that can be done to avert that reality.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
We do not see the way that lies ahead for us. It seems dark, but God is the Master of all destinies and His will is love. Let us then put aside everything else and trust ourselves completely to Him, giving ourselves to His love, asking Him to enlighten and guide us in the way of positive action, if any such action is feasible. For the rest, we must have great patience and sustained fidelity to His will and to our ideals.
Letter to Evora Areca de Sardonia, Witness to Freedom (Taken from The Intimate Merton)
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Inspired by the life of Dorothy Day, she walked away from a promising advertising career, to become a voice for the poor in Boston. In 1974, she helped found Rosie’s Place, which began as a day shelter for homeless women, a place where they felt safe and wanted. It has since grown into a multi-service organization, still dedicated to serving poor women.
I heard Ms. Tiernan speak about Rosie’s Place several times. I also saw her at gatherings of Catholic women who were advocating for a greater voice in Church affairs. She always had on a battered hat; she always wore a rumbled jacket. And she always wore a cross. As Christ gave His all for us; Ms. Tiernan gave her all for the poor. She will be missed.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saint Clare and her community became the contemplative branch of the Franciscan family, and preserved the ideal of Franciscan poverty. The community continues to this day.
Monday, June 27, 2011
There are hundreds of websites out there, established by various Church organizations, and individual Catholics. Some of them are very good; the Vatican, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Archdiocese of Boston, which includes Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s own blog. There are many well constructed blogs created by individuals, many of whom are listed on my blog roll.
The biggest fear that many Catholic leaders have is that the Church is not reaching young digital savvy persons. The Web, if used well, can be a means of reaching out to the young, but it must be done in such a way that it addresses the spiritual needs and concerns of these persons. Finally, what is written on the Web, it must to be lived in the real world.
So will what the Church preaches electronically be “sticky” or “bouncy.”
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The reporting states that there have been suggestions that several parishes in a local area be clustered under one pastor, supported by a combined staff, one financial council and pastoral council. It in turn would look at needs, and ministries versus assets, and recommend to the Archdiocese on the closing or preserving of any the cluster’s facilities. The word has already been out on the ecclesial street, that this might be an approach the Archdiocese might take to address the reduction in active clergy, and the drop in active church membership and donations. It is already being tried in Dorchester, MA, where a former classmate of mine, Father Jack Ahern, is the pastor of three combined parishes.
The idea of creating church clusters is not written in stone, but is still being thought through. Nobody wants a repeat of the last reconfiguration, which was a confused, ill-thought process. Whatever savings it might have had for the Archdiocese, it was not worth the pain, the suspicions, and the strains on the relationships between the laity and the Archbishop. Whatever decisions is made, is must be carefully explained, with clear standards for preserving a parish, and the process must be transparent.
The thing is that the Archdiocese must do something concerning the Catholic communities it is responsible for. The problem is not just financial; it is the number of priests that are available to fully staff all of the parishes. Where there is no Eucharist, there is an ecclesial community in danger of dying. To answer this danger may require thinking outside of the box. A local Catholic community can take many forms, as long as it celebrates a common Eucharist, it remains united with its bishop, and through it’s bishop, is united with the world wide Church.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
The findings of the study are not going to go down well with either conservatives or liberals in the Church. Leaders of clergy abuse survivor’s support groups are already denouncing the report as a whitewash, covering for the bishops.
I am not going to go over all the points that the study has covered, I encourage any readers to click on the links provided above. What I want to share is some of my seminary experiences that provide at some anecdotal support for the conclusions in the study.
I entered the seminary as a college student during the early 70’s. The minor seminary, for high school students, had been closed a few years earlier. As I recall, the only psychological testing we received was a fill in the dot’s test. It was nothing compared to the intense psychological testing I had to take a few years later, when I was admitted into the Franciscan Friars formation program; or when I entered the Permanent Diaconate formation program. Had the testing been more rigorous back then, it might have shown how socially immature I was at the time, and I might have received better assistance dealing with it. By luck or by the guidance of the Spirit caused me to realize I needed to seek a different path. But how many men were allowed to go on through to ordination, who were not ready to deal with the stresses of clerical life.
The seminary tried to provide some formation help on understanding how to live as a celibate priest; but it was not sustained, and did not occur frequently enough. Again, how many young priests entered a world undergoing the “sexual revolution,” ill prepared to deal with it.
Despite these obstacles, the study estimates that 4 to 6 percent of the clergy during the period examined, would become sexual abusers. Unfortunately, because of the way the bishops mishandled these cases of abuse, these abusers were allowed the opportunity to offend again and again. The bishops have a long way to go before they can win back the full trust of the laity, if that is ever going to be possible.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Now I grew up during the time when Vatican II was still in session. The Mass my family and I attended was the Tridentine Liturgy, and I mean attended, not participated in. We observed the liturgy being celebrated. When I became an altar boy, I memorized the liturgical Latin, but the words had no meaning for me. The Eucharistic liturgy that came out of the Vatican II renewal was meant for all the people of God. We, the laity, can actively participate in the celebration, worshiping in a language we can understand, being able to witness, to see the miracle that is the consecration; the Body and Blood of Our Jesus Christ, present on the altar.The current liturgy is not perfect, that is because of the human element. But this liturgy has become a very important part of my faith life. Now I understand why there are those who still find the Tridentine liturgy attractive, but for me, it does not represent my understanding of what it means to be Church, to be the People of God in today’s world.
So instead of trying to turn the clock back, we need to listen to the faithful, what are they looking for in the Eucharistic liturgy, and how can we improve it so that it will answer the spiritual needs of all the Church.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Today is the feast day of Saint Damien of Molokai (January 3, 1840 to April 15, 1889). A Belgium missionary priest, he volunteered to go out to the Hawaiian leper colony to serve the people who were under quarantine. Living conditions were poor, the lepers had lost hope, Father Damien did all he could to provide for both their physical and spiritual needs. Like St. Francis, he found them to be “a source of spiritual and physical consolation.” Eventually, he, himself, came down with the disease, and would eventually die from it.
St. Damien is an example of one who practiced “kenosis,” that self-emptying of one self for the sake of others, for the goal of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the fullest.
He has been one of my favorite holy persons. I have read one of the biographies of him, “Holy Man,” and have seen both a one man play on public television, and a movie based on his life. His life of service and sacrifice is both frightening and inspiring. Frightening is so much as what living the Gospel can demand of us; inspiring in so much as it shows what one person can do, with the help of God’s grace.
One final note, he would eventually receive help with his mission, among them would be a group of Franciscan sisters.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
But as I have been looking at the photos of events in Rome, at all the pomp and ceremony, the Franciscan in me recalls something St. Francis of Assisi wrote for his followers;
“Let all of us, brothers, look to the Good Shepherd Who suffered the passion of the cross to save His sheep. The sheep of the Lord followed Him in tribulation and persecution, in insult and hunger, in infirmity and temptation, and in everything else, and they have received everlasting life from the Lord because of these things. Therefore, it is a great shame for us, servants of God, that while the saints actually did such things, we wish to receive glary and honor by merely recounting their deeds.” (VI Admonition)
The Church holds up individuals like Philip, like James, and like John Paul II; as examples of what it means to help build up the Body of Christ, what it means to take on the roles of service that the Holy Spirit is calling each one of us to fulfill.
So yes, let us celebrate the lives of the saints, but may they also inspire us to greater efforts to build up the Church, the Body of Christ; to lead lives of love, of hope, of service, that will bring the light of our Risen Lord to the world.
Friday, April 29, 2011
That being said, I am tired of all the hype, the hoopla that has surrounded today’s wedding of Prince Harry and Kate Middleton. Yes, it is a prime social news story that deserves coverage by the major news organizations. But when local news stations dig into their pockets to send local reporters to cover it; there is a question of where the priority lies. And they have filed so many stories leading up to today, that they are really stretching what is relevant to report on.
This reminds me of a story that the Franciscan friar and biographer of St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas of Celano, told:
“He (Francis) taught them not only to mortify vices and repress carnal movements, but also to restrain the exterior senses themselves, for through them death enters the soul. When at that time the Emperor Otto was passing through the place with much clamor and pomp to receive the crown of his earthly empire, the most holy father, who was living with his brothers in that hovel close to the road on which the emperor would pass, did not even go out to watch; and he did not let any one else to do so except one who continuously called out to the Emperor that his glory would last but a short time,..”
Yes, this is a time for the people of Great Britain to celebrate, to have a moment of joy after so much bad news. And yes, the rest of the world can watch, and enjoy the spectacle as it plays out on our televisions and computer monitors. But there are people out there that should not be forgotten, the tornado victims in the South, the earthquake victims of Japan; the Arab protestors, seeking freedom. They and others deserve our attention more!
Monday, April 25, 2011
Despite what conventional wisdom might be, on either side of the spectrum, the data shows that most Catholics leave because they are not getting the spiritual nourishment they crave. And it is not because they feel the Church has strayed from traditional liturgy. A liturgy, whether traditional or modern, that is not done well, will fail to touch the hearts of the congregation. A homily, which does not explain the Scriptures, leaves the listeners feeling empty.
Among the recommendations Father Reese comes up with from the data, is that there needs to be more emphasis on the Bible. Biblical education programs need to be developed for Catholics. And Catholics need to learn that daily reading and reflecting on the Bible is just as important as memorizing the catechism; maybe even more so.
My feeling is that this is just the starting point; liturgies need to be better planned and celebrated. This requires not just the clergy, but also the laity, those with musical skills, to encourage hymn singing. It requires training lectors to not just read the Scriptures, but to proclaim them. People need to be inspired to, encouraged to, gather together for communal prayer; and to share their prayer experiences. Some of the old devotions should be looked at again, renewed for modern needs.
To encourage people to remain in the Church, will require imagination from all of us, bishops, priests, deacons, and laity. Above all, we will need the aid of the Holy Spirit to guide us and inspire us.
Friday, April 22, 2011
“Look upon Him Who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. Your Spouse, though more beautiful than the children of men (Ps 44:3), became for your salvation the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout His whole body, and then died amid the sufferings amid the sufferings of the Cross. O most noble Queen, gaze upon Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.
If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him,
if you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him;
if you die with Him on the cross of tribulation,
you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendor of the saints
and, in the Book of Life, your name shall be called glorious among men.”
(St. Clare of Assisi, Second Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague)
(Image from the e-newsletter of Holy Name Province, OFM)
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
When the Franciscans received custody of various sacred sites in the Holy Land, they promoted the ancient practice of following of the Via Dolorosa, leading groups of pilgrims down the streets of Jerusalem, meditating of the journey of Jesus to Calvary. The friars wanted other Catholics to experience the Via Dolorosa, even if they could not make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. So they created the Stations of the Cross, either around or within a parish church.
I remember the Stations of the Cross as a child, back then it was practiced very solemnly, with priest and altar boys in cassock and surplice, carrying a cross and two candles. They move very slowly to each station, prayers would be said, and a Latin hymn would be sung.
Now days, the Stations are still being practiced during the season of Lent, only now it may be laypersons leading the congregation in prayer. But it still stirs the heart, still makes one sad, as one contemplates what Jesus suffered as walked through the streets of Jerusalem for the last time.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
One has ambivalent feelings about skateboarders. One admires they courage and skill as they do fantastic maneuvers with their skateboards. On the other hand, they do their tricks anywhere there are stone benches, brick stairs, etc., becoming a bit of a nuisance. Stone gets marked up, bricks crack and crumble, but the skaters do not seem to care.
Now in Tuesday, March, 1 issue of the Boston Metro newspaper, there was a story of skateboarders using the 9/11 Memorial for New England victims, located in the Boston Public Gardens, for their maneuvers and tricks, defacing the Memorial. The sad part is that these teenagers show no remorse, even when the meaning of the Memorial was explained to them. It was just place for them to skate, and it was their right to skate there.
Property needs to be respected; it must neither be exploited nor abused. And this is especially true when it comes to memorials, as they help survivors remember those whom they have lost. This is especially true of this Memorial.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
There are images that symbolize how different factions see the Catholic Church. I discovered two of them surfing the blogosphere. One is a picture I saw on the Deacon’s Bench, of Cardinal Raymond Burke, ordaining a deacon, attired in Pre-Vatican II vestments. For me it is an image of a regal, clerical Church far removed from the lives of ordinary people. The other image I saw was from Whispers in the Loggia, is of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston. He was participating in a Liturgy of Repentance in Ireland, with the Archbishop of Dublin. Part of the ceremony was both prelates washing the feet of some of the survivors of clergy abuse. For me, this shows the Church as both Penitent and Servant. It is this image I will remember and cherish; it is this Church I want to belong to.