Monday, December 12, 2011

Reclaiming Silence

A very good read on the need to reclaim silence in our liturgies:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Confession, Good for the Soul and the Body

Today's gospel passage (Lk 5:17-26) got me to thinking about the physical consequences of sin, but let me back up a ways first and make some other connections.  Over the past several months I have been undertaking some studies in the area of counselling and psychology.  One important thing I learned, which most people do not know, is that untreated mental illness can have the effect of shortening one's life expectancy.  As I said, most people would probably not expect that to be the case, we could all make the connection between physical illness and a shorter life span, but mental illness?  I don't have all the details on what the effects are, but I would suspect that untreated mental illness at the very least contributes to a heightened level of stress on the rest of the body, and thus leads to a shorter life.  I would like to suggest that something similar might be true of sin.  I'm sure for those with a strong interior life, a strong prayer life, it becomes noticeable when sins begin to accumulate, and when confession is becoming over due.  I certainly have had that experience in prayer, but I've noticed physical signs in myself as well.  I suffer from a neck injury I sustained in a car accident back in high school.  Most of the time it's fine, but I know that when stress is building around something the stiffness sets in.  There are times when I have nothing to be stressed about, but realize that it's been a while since I've been to confession, because my neck gives me the same signal.  Many times too, I have heard the confession of someone with a "big" sin to confess, or someone who has been away from confession for a long time.  At the end of the confession, you can see a physical difference, as though a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.  Theologically we know that death entered the world as a consequence of sin, but perhaps (and I have no theological or scientific evidence for this other than my own observations) leaving our sins untended and unconfessed can have an effect on our physical well-being as well.  This Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, it's a good time to make a confession if we haven't been in a while.  As so many people are focusing on their health I suggest the following simple rules:  have a good diet, get a good night's sleep, get good exercise, and make a good confession.  You just might feel better, in more ways than one.

A Tribute to Liturgical Music

With my latest post on the liturgy, I couldn't help but offer this little tribute to the music of the past few decades.  A little humour for Monday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Musings on the Mass - The New Translation (Part II)

Over the past week I have had the opportunity to not only celebrate the Mass using the texts of the new translation, but also to observe several other priests celebrate as well, and I could not help but note something, which is perhaps so obvious as to be overlooked.  In my last posting on the new translation, I observed that the new words carried a certain passion about them, something which I was very glad to see and experience.  The implication of course being, that seeing the passion in the new words, it became that much more painfully obvious that the old translation was very much bereft of passion.  That being said, there is (and I'm sure just about everyone would agree on this point) also a high level of solemnity to the new translation, a gravitas to the new words, a level of formality to the prayers not experienced since the introduction of the Missal of Paul VI into the vernacular.  Having observed several of my brother priests celebrating with this new translation something becomes apparent.  The old translation begot (in some priests) a rather casual manner of celebrating the Mass, congruent with the more casual language of the text.  Having that same causal manner of celebrating imported into the new text now causes a rather significant incongruity, I think.  Similarly, the hymns which have accompanied the celebration of Mass for the last several decades, especially those by the triumvirate of Marty Haugen, David Hass, and Lucien Deiss, now seem rather out of place, as we seem to be constantly switching back and forth between sing-songy hymns and the elevated language praising the transcendent God of the Missal.  Perhaps the new translation will begin now to have an ever broader effect, both to the ars celebrandi of priests, and to the musical selections by choirs, as we look towards the future of the Roman Rite, and the way we celebrate the praise and worship of our Almighty God.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent "Non-Doing"

A couple of days ago, the first real snowfall of the year made its way through southern Ontario.  At my present location there is a vast open field behind the building, with grass, trees and some flower gardens.  As I walked past a rather wide window and looked out on the entire scene covered in a blanket of snow, I just said to myself, "Now it's Advent!"  What did I mean by that?  Well certainly there is very much an association with snow in my mind with this time of year, coming from Montreal originally, we know what real snow is.  As I reflected further on my own exclamation, there is a good connection between snow and what the season of Advent is really all about.  When snow is covering the ground, all of creation is asleep, waiting.  Plants and trees are not growing, they are dormant, storing up energy for the spring time when they will bud forth into new life.  Advent is about waiting, and it is about not doing.  Out in the consumer world, the time leading up to Christmas is about anything but not doing, it's about endless shopping, and "holiday" parties, to the point where Christmas just becomes an anti-climax, as we collapse exhausted after the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle.  Perhaps we can take a clue from God's creation around us, as it waits calmly, serenely, patiently, and quietly for the coming spring, so we in this holy season of preparation are invited to wait in the quiet of our hearts and homes for the coming of our Saviour.  This Advent let's pull back from the doing, and enter a bit more into the being, the patient and quiet waiting for the springtime of our Saviour's arrival.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where Freedom is to be Found

My circumstances this week have given me pause to reflect on the nature of freedom.  What those circumstances are, are not really necessary to the reflection, so I won't tell you.  So often we think of freedom in terms of being able to do what we want, to go where we want.  We don't want restrictions put on ourselves, especially from outside, from some authority.  I'm not going to claim that I'm immune to those feelings, I think there is something within us, something God has placed within us that just yearns for freedom.  The problem that we so often encounter, is that just like happiness, we search for it in the wrong way, and in the wrong places (I'm sure there's a country/western song in there somewhere).  I'm sure it would be a surprise to many that freedom could be found locked in a room, in a prison cell, or just about anywhere.  True freedom comes from within.  St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the patroness of the missions, and she never left her cloister.  That seems rather incongruous, but speaks of a similar reality.  We find true freedom within and with God, we can't forget that second part.  In the search for inner peace and freedom many turn to eastern religions who suggest an inner freedom, but at the expense of that connection to the Other, that higher reality which is God.  Freedom is found in relationship to God, in accepting his will whatever it might be.  It really doesn't matter where you are to do that, in a church, in your room, in your office, freedom is there.  Some weeks back I was reading the book He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek, an excellent reflection on this idea, that I would highly recommend reading.  Fr. Ciszek found freedom while he was in a prison cell, and a Soviet labour camp in Siberia.  The last place most people would look for freedom.  For Fr. Ciszek though, he came to realize that freedom was not to be found in his ability to come and go as he pleased, or in his ability to do whatever he wanted, but it was in accepting and doing God's will in whatever circumstances he found himself.  The next time anyone of us goes looking for freedom somewhere out there, we should remember Fr. Ciszek's lesson, freedom begins within, with our total and complete surrender to God, and acceptance of His will, wherever we are, and in whatever we do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Homily - Keep Awake

Last evening I was chatting with come colleagues, and I noted that unlike any other important season in the liturgical year, Advent really does not have any important feast or event to mark its beginning. Christmas starts with Christmas Day and ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with the Paschal Triduum.  Easter begins with Easter Sunday, and ends with Pentecost.  Advent though, advent just happens.  There's no important feast or event, it just happens, the First Sunday of Advent comes along with no fanfare, we just roll from Ordinary time right into Advent almost unnoticed.  It's probably the reason we add things to this day, the blessing and lighting of the Advent wreath, just to have some mark.  The fact that Advent just "happens" is, I think, very significant, and says something about the nature of the this season, and what we are looking forward to, since the word Advent means that something is coming.  As our scriptures point out to us today, we are looking forward to Christ's return in glory, but no one knows when it will take place, there will be no warning, it will just happen.  Some years back I began to wonder to myself, why it is that we have two occasions in the liturgical year when we focus on the Second Coming of Christ, after all, we just spent the last four weeks of Ordinary Time focused on Christ's return, and now we spend the first part of Advent doing the same thing.  It was only when I realized the slight shift that I understood the reason.  As our readings begin to unfold over the next days and weeks, it is clear that we are looking towards Christ's return, but unlike the end of Ordinary Time, we are not looking at the time leading up to His return, but to the time after.  We are looking forward to that time of glory and joy, the new creation when God will show us true love and majesty, and we will know joy unlike anything we have ever known or experienced here in this life.  I'm sure many have and will continue to use the prospect of Jesus' Second Coming as a reason for fear, for scrupulosity, trying to be perfect in the face of judgement.  But the invitation we are being given this day is to "keep awake", not in fear, but in anticipation.  We are invited to make ourselves ready, not in expectation of judgement, but eagerly awaiting the joy and glory of what will follow Christ's return, we prepare ourselves, because we want to be a part of it, we want to be there when it happens.  Therefore we are invited in this holy season and always to keep awake.

Musings on the Mass - the New Translation

Today the English speaking world inaugurated the new translation of the Roman Missal, in full.  In some places the new parts of the Mass have been practiced with congregations for some months already, some places in the world are still using the old translation for a little while yet, but here in Canada, the Missal came in full force today.  Presently I find myself in a situation where I don't have the opportunity to preside at Mass with a congregation on a regular basis, but I did have the chance today, and so I thought I'd just offer a couple of my own thoughts about the experience.  Some months back I was taking some holidays and went to visit some of my classmates who live and work on the east coast of Canada.  As I was travelling with one classmate from New Brunswick to visit two others in Nova Scotia, I decided to pull out the copy of the old Roman Ritual I had brought with me, to offer a prayer for our journey.  As I prayed that prayer aloud, and recited a few others for my friend he commented that I was praying with a passion he had not seen before.  He actually likened it to a Baptist minister who was 'on fire' in his preaching.  The only comment I could make in reply was that it was the words of the text, that the text itself had a passion to it, that it had "teeth" so to speak, that it was not a neutered or watered down text, but it was the Roman Rite in all its splendor and glory.  Today, as I prayed the new translation of the Mass for the first time, I noticed something.  Certainly I was a little befuddled having heard nothing and prayed nothing but the old translation since my father first brought me to Mass as a child.  I was having to navigate new texts and a new book after all.  But as the Mass unfolded I found myself saying and praying the texts with a new passion, one which I had not had before.  The only thing I could attribute it to was the text.  That no longer did we have a neutered and watered down text, but now we had to Roman Rite in splendor and glory (or at least a much better approximation of the original text).  I know that there have been many concerns about the new text, it seems much more exalted, the language may be more formal and more complicated.  Some have suggested that it will turn more people away from the Church. But I suspect that the opposite may be true, especially if many of my brother priests have a similar experience to my own.  If the new text inspires true passion for the liturgy in the priests, that passion will spill out into their congregations.  Therefore I urge my brothers to enter into the new words of the text, to find the passion in them, let that passion enter you, and that passion for the text will become a true passion for God, a passion shared with God's people.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In the "Spirit" of Vatican II

A good observation about liturgical architecture in light of the mandate of the Second Vatican Council.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Comments are open

Hello all, I just changed some of the settings for the blog.  Comments were previously limited to registered users, however they are now open to anyone.  Please note though, I will be moderating the comments.  As always, remember charity!

The Spirit of Detachment

As I approach my final day here in my current assignment I have been experiencing many endings.  There was my final homily last weekend, my farewell reception this coming weekend, dismantling my office and room to pack up.  Of course there are the very personal goodbyes as well, saying farewell to the parishioners, the staff, and those with whom I have worked closely while here in Guelph.  I'll admit, that I did get a little choked up trying to get my farewell message out the first time last weekend.  As I meet for the final time with certain individuals such as those for whom I have been providing spiritual direction, there is certainly a touch of sadness.  I'm reminded of a line from the prayers of final commendation from the Order of Christian Funerals (which I have just had to dig out of the box in which it was already packed to find the quote), "there is sadness in parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see him again and enjoy his friendship."

Sadness in parting is very much a part of the human journey, as we form bonds and connections with those with whom we journey in this 'valley of tears', bonds which inevitably come to an end.  This morning though it also got me thinking about the spiritual nature of detachment.  There are many walks of life in which one is called upon to 'move on', and certainly the role of the diocesan priest is to be a pilgrim, never staying too long in one place, and in that too there is a witness to a deeper spiritual reality.  Some years ago I and friend of mine were speaking to a young seminarian in his first year about the notion of detachment, because of the very transitive nature of the ministry of the parish priest.  This seminarian was a little shocked, and thought we were talking about a very cold and distant approach to the people, that one couldn't be friendly with anyone because one day you would have to leave.  Of course that is not what we meant at all, we were talking about detachment.  Perhaps to explain a little better I might show off my geek credentials and quote from Anakin Skywalker as he describes love in the life of a Jedi, "Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion -- which I would define as…unconditional love -- is essential to a Jedi's life. So, you might say that we are encouraged to love."

The life and ministry of the parish priest really is meant to show that same idea.  We are not bound to poverty, but we are encouraged to live simply without the need for many possessions, we don't have a family of our own, and as I have already mentioned, we don't normally stay too long in any one place, in fact today, a dozen years in one parish is becoming a rare thing.  As Christians, the one and only thing we need is God alone, indeed those true saints (if we are fortunate enough to encounter one in this life) have almost an other worldly quality about them, because the have all they need and desire in God.  Most of us who have not advanced to the heights of sanctity continue to develop attachments to things and people of this world.  Don't get me wrong, it a natural part of life that we form these attachments, but as Christians we are called to that higher calling to find all we need and desire in God alone.  Some months ago I shocked someone as I was teaching about Purgatory, that one of its purposes was to rid us of our attachments to the people and things of this world to prepare us for Heaven.  She couldn't believe it, the fact that she would one day have to detach herself from her husband and family in order to go to God unfettered.

Here is the rub, that just as Anakin Skywalker said, we are encouraged to love, but we are encouraged to do so in an unselfish way, to trust in God's providential care for everyone and everything, and not to make anyone or anything our own personal possession.  Any selfish attachments we have to creatures means our love for our Creator becomes divided.  We are encouraged to love, but to do it unselfishly, to grow daily in our charity, our compassion, and to remember that everything and everyone in our lives is a gift from God, and belongs to God alone.  We must never forget that all we ever need is God alone.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father Corapi’s Bombshell

An analysis of the situation by the National Catholic Register, definitely worth a read.

The popular speaker announces plans to leave the priesthood amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct, and his religious superior breaks his silence on the investigation.

Sunday Homily - The Most Holy Trinty, God's Life and Us (and a Farewell Message)

As I am due to leave my parish in the next week, my homily this Sunday includes a bit of a farewell message; it's a farewell to the parish, not to the blog, just to clarify.

Well, we are come to my final discourse this weekend.  I will still be with you for another week and a half, but next Sunday our soon-to-be-ordained-deacon John Redmond will be offering us his first homily as an ordained clergyman, and so this will be the last Sunday homily of mine which you will be able to enjoy, or have to endure as the case my be.

The Most Holy Trinity, it is one of those mysteries of our faith which seems to cause so much consternation to anyone who takes the time to reflect on it.  In fact there's a joke told at the seminary, that after you have taken the course in Trinitarian theology, you will leave with:  five notions, four real relations, three person, two processions, one essence, and ZERO comprehension.  This feast day, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or as we often call it, Trinity Sunday often causes a great deal of consternation for preachers.  After all, how can one possible take something as abstract and theological as the Trinity, and make it applicable to our lives, how can you do the subject justice in the short space of a homily?  There's a story told of one of the priests of our diocese, this was many years ago now, and this priest was just newly arrived from Poland.  He was a young curate in a parish, still learning English, and one Sunday morning the pastor suddenly took ill.  So this young curate, with his tenuous grasp of the English language, and no time to prepare, was forced to give the homily, and it was Trinity Sunday.  He got up into the pulpit, and this is the homily he gave, "Trinity is great mystery.  If I speak about it, will be even greater mystery."  Thus ended the homily.

Understanding the Trinity, how it works really isn't important for us to understand this feast though.  In fact, for us human beings it is impossible to ever fully understand how the Trinity works anyway.  There is an account told from the life of St. Augustine, he was walking along the seashore, contemplating the mystery of the Trinity, in the midst of writing his work on the Trinity.  As he walked along he saw a young boy digging a hole, then running to fetch water from the ocean and pour it into the hole.  St. Augustine stopped and inquired what the boy was doing, the boy told him that he was attempting to put the ocean into the hole.  The saint replied that it would be impossible to put the ocean into a small hole, at which point the boy revealed himself to be an angel, who told Augustine, that just as it is impossible to fit the ocean into a hole, so it is impossible for the mystery of the Trinity to be contained in the human mind.  So it really is impossible for us to fully understand this great mystery, but as I already said, to understand this feast it's not important.

The Trinity ultimately is the life of God, the inner life of God, the life of God that we are called to share in, to participate in; that is what's important for us, this sharing in God's life, in this life we call it Grace, in the next life we call it Heaven.  This inner life of God is a relationship of love; theologians will tell us that the Holy Spirit is the love that exists between the Father and the Son, a love so perfect and so great, that He is Himself a person.  This is key for us, and for how we relate to our God.  If we look to many of the ancient religions, to the pagan religions we often find that the people created a whole pantheon of gods for themselves, because if you think about it, the idea of a single, solitary god is a rather scary thought.  A lonely god, who created us for the sake of having some companionship; how could we, limited, weak human beings that we are, how could we ever adequately return the affections of an all-powerful god?  But our God is not alone, our God is a community of persons, a relationship of love.  God does not need anything from us, God is perfectly content and perfectly complete in Himself, but like any relationship of true love, that love went beyond God, to us, God created us out of love.

So often though, as our first reading makes clear, we reject that love, that life that God offers to us, because we are a "stiff-necked" people as Moses says, a stubborn people.  We turn away from God in our sinfulness, we look at all that we have received from God, and we forget who it comes from.  But our God, in his love for us continues to give us opportunities to come back, to share in His life.  He even sent his Son into the world to offer Himself as a sacrifice to save us from our sins, to break down the barrier between us and God, that we might once again have that opportunity to share in his life.  Again though, so often we forget that everything we have comes from God, all of our possessions, our relationships, our gifts and talents, even the good works we do are by the grace of God.  We look at our possessions and we want more, we look at our talents, our good works, and we puff up our pride, we forget that they are all gifts from God, freely given out of love.  As many theologians would tell us, the only thing that we human being can do or achieve without God, is sin.  That is why we come here each and every week, to this Holy Eucharist, because this is the perfect way to offer our thanks to God for his love and his gifts.  By sharing in the sacrifice of the Son, we renew our relationship, and our resolve to persevere in the life of grace, so that by constantly living in that life of grace in the here and now, we might share forever in the life of the Holy Trinity, in the kingdom of heaven.

Just before I conclude, I do want to offer just a few short words of farewell.  There will still be opportunities for individual good-byes, but since this is my last opportunity to address all of you, I have just a few words of thanks.  First and foremost I must give thanks to God for all of the blessings I have received over these last two years, I thank God for all of the highs, the lows, and everything in between.  I wish to express my thanks to all of you as well, for your kindness, for your friendship, and for your prayers.  I will certainly continue to pray for all of you as I continue on to my new assignment in Hamilton.  Finally, I can think of no better parting words than those which St. Paul offers to us today, "Finally, brothers and sisters, put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fr. Corapi becomes the "Black Sheep Dog"

As many of us are just becoming aware either last night or this morning, Fr. John Corapi has announced that he will be leaving public ministry.  I'm quite certain this will come as a shock to a great many people, it was a shock to me.  The video above is the statement he issued, it can also be found on his new website, under his new persona, the "Black Sheep Dog".  Our prayers are certainly with him at this time.  Fr. Corapi has done marvelous work in the course of the 20 years of his ministry.  I was first introduced to him through his series of videos explaining the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I know he has been and continues to be an inspiration to many, and has no doubt brought many people to the faith.

All that being said, I can't help but find this statement somewhat troubling, and I know I'm not the only one.  Many people in the history of the Church have been falsely accused of this or that, indeed some have drawn comparisons with Padre Pio and others.  The simple fact of the matter is, that to put on a Roman Collar makes one a target, it's sad, but very true.  You can do everything in your power to try and avoid it, but short of hiding in your room, periodically emerging to say Mass, you're never going to be totally off someone's radar screen.  For priests it goes with the territory, to be a priest means to be another Christ, and Christ was falsely accused and condemned, should we not expect the same treatment.  Of course it hurts all the more when it appears to come from within the Church itself, but it really shouldn't matter where it comes from, because God has permitted it for some reason.

St. Alphonsus Liguori in his short work, Uniformity with God's Will, says:

Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God's will not only in things that come to us directly from his hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, death of relatives, but likewise in those we suffer from man -- for example, contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods and all kinds of persecution. On these occasions we must remember that whilst God does not will the sin, he does will our humiliation, our poverty, or our mortification, as the case may be. It is certain and of faith, that whatever happens, happens by the will of God: "I am the Lord forming the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating evil." From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God's hands: "Shall there be evil in a city which the Lord hath not done?" "Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God."

Ultimately it is not yet clear what Fr. Corapi means by his statment, he has not directly said he is leaving the priesthood, though it seems to be implied.  He notes that given his present situation he had two options "1. I can quietly lie down and die, or 2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on."  Are those really the only two options, is leaving the priesthood and maintaining his fanbase really the more appealing option rather than living a quiet life amongst his community.  Being suspended, he had lost his priestly faculties, and I'm sure that was and still is very painful, but nonetheless, he is still a priest, and even leaving the active ministry he will remain a priest.  I don't wish to judge, but sadly this seems more an act of pride, than a submission to God's will, even in an unjust situation.

Of course we all could only hope that faced with a similar situation that we would take the route of humility rather than trying to pridefully try to defend ourselves.  Let us continue to pray for Fr. Corapi, that he will make the right choices, for the right motives.  Let us pray for all priests that they will have the strength to stand up to the slings and arrows that come their way.  Let us pray for each and every one of us, that we might have to courage and strength to accept God's will in our lives no matter how difficult it might be; "if we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Place of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

Fully aware that this particular subject has been written about ad nauseam, I still venture in to add my own two cents on the subject of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and its place and purpose in the life of the Church in the 21st century.

I was recently rereading the pertinent documents connected with the expansion of the usage of the Usus antiquior, and a couple of items do tend to jump out.  In the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, issued by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, three reasons are given for the widening of the usage of the Extraordinary Form, and like any document of this type, it would not be too far fetched a notion to understand them as being in order of importance.  The first item on the list notes that by the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, the Holy Father is "offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved", only secondary is the consideration of those who specifically ask for this form of the Mass, and way down in third place is the notion of reconciliation with those groups who have separated from the Church over issues which include the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

This form of the Mass is offered to "all the faithful", but for what purpose, if the people are not asking for this form?  The answer can be found in the letter from the Holy Father to the Bishops explaining the Motu Proprio, in which he says, "The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."  This comes in the paragraph discussing the potential for the mutual enrichment of the two forms of the Roman Rite.  Notice the tense, the Holy Father writes in the future tense, "will be able...will bring out."  He notes that there is definitely spiritual richness and theological depth in the Missal of Paul VI, but with the way the Ordinary Form is currently celebrated, we have not seen it yet!

The Extraordinary Form is given as a gift to the Church, because we have forgotten what the Roman Rite is supposed to look like, our liturgy is celebrated in a way that does not show spiritual richness and theological depth, at least in the mind of the Holy Father, and many others.  This aspect however, continues to be overlooked as many argue that its primary purpose is to satisfy a few individuals on the fringe who like antiquated liturgy, or to foster reunification with the SSPX.  I fear too, that the way we are beginning to implement these directives is only furthering those notions.  The Motu Proprio allows for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form in any parish and every parish, but in many places it is still confined to one parish per region, and thus will only attract a limited number of people, and inspire only a few priests to bother with learning the older form of the Mass.  Often too, it is celebrated as an "event", a special occasion, a one time deal, for particular feast days.  This "event" mentality can even be found in the treatment of the Usus antiquior on EWTN.  Don't get me wrong, every praise to EWTN for broadcasting the Extraordinary Form, but if it is to have the effect which the Holy Father seems to have in mind, it must become a regular part of the life of the Church.

So here is my bold proposal in two parts.  The first part is perhaps a little more ambitious, that there should be a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in every urban centre on a regular basis, offered by diocesan priests, even if there is no great mass of people clamoring for it, priests need to learn it, in order to learn how to offer the Ordinary Form as the Missal intends.  The second part (perhaps also ambitious), that the Extraordinary Form needs to become a regular feature on television broadcasts, networks such as EWTN or Salt and Light in Canada should broadcast a Mass in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday, even if it is only a Low Mass, again to drive home the point that it is not just for special occasions, nor is it just for a select few, but for "all the faithful".

Perhaps some may think I've gone off the traditionalist deep end, but as I see more and more young people looking to recapture the sacred in our worship, as I see more and more Catholics drift away from the faith because the Mass "doesn't do anything for them", I wonder if perhaps the Reform of the Reform is indeed past due.  Our Mass is not about us, it is about God, but the way we currently celebrate the Ordinary Form does not say that (another post to come on that subject), we need to recapture the Sacred in our worship, and the Holy Father's plan is there to do just that, all we have to do is get on board.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunday Homily - The Spirit of Unity

The following is the text for my homily given this past Sunday at a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in St. Anne's, Kitchener:

Today we celebrate the glorious Feast of Pentecost, a day when we give our focus to the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, whichever you prefer to call Him.  So often it seems that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member of the Holy Trinity.  It's on occasions such as this one that I'm always a little envious of our brethren in the East.  The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, and those in the Orthodox traditions generally have a much better developed theology of, and appreciation for the Holy Spirit, than those of us in the West.  We seem to put all of our focus onto Christ, and certainly it is fitting, since we are his followers, but the Holy Spirit accomplishes so much, but we only seem to remember him on Pentecost and at Confirmation time.

We can certainly take much time, say a great deal about the Holy Spirit, so I will have to confine my reflections today to just one area, and today I would like to reflect on the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Unity.  The cause of division after all is sin, and it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we can achieve unity again, and I would like to look at three different areas, moving from the general, to the more specific.

In the reading from the book of Acts, we hear of the Apostles, who had been gathered in the upper room for nine days, in prayer, fearful of the Jewish authorities, suddenly going out to preach the message of Christ after receiving the Holy Spirit, and doing so in many different tongues, many different languages.  This hearkens back to the passage in the book of Genesis about the tower of Babel.  The many languages of humanity all brought about through human sin; sin causes division.  When travelling through the world, in order to communicate with our fellows, we need to find some way to overcome the language barrier, someway to translate.  Communication is difficult enough let alone trying to spread the faith of Christ and the Gospel message.  Through the power of the Spirit though, unity is restored, and indeed as the passage continues we hear that 3000 people were baptized that very day and became members of the Church.

It is often said that the greatest scandal in the Christian Church is the divisions within it.  So many thousands of different Christian denominations, how can we possibly proclaim the one truth of Christ when we are divided amongst ourselves.  For the past several decades, the Ecumenical movement has sought to bring about unity among Christians, but we often hear the old refrain, Ecumenism is not about making everyone Catholic again.  Well, I think our Holy Father, Pope Benedict would respectfully disagree.  After all we see the recent creation of the Anglican ordinariates to allow members of the Anglican Church to return to the Catholic Church while retaining some of the distinctiveness of their own liturgical traditions.  Quite recently too we saw a symbolic, but certainly a significant gesture, as our Holy Father was presented with a new Papal Tiara, by a group of Catholics and Orthodox Christians.  It is being called the Tiara of Christian Unity.  Catholics and Orthodox coming together to present the Holy Father with what is ultimately a sign of his authority as Successor of St. Peter.  We pray that the Holy Spirit continue to guide the work of Christian Unity and the efforts of the Holy Father to achieve it.

Turning a little more specific now, we can look at divisions even in our own personal relationships.  Once again, it must be said that divisions which come between us as persons have their origin in sin.  We can look at one specific example that is very prevalent in our own culture, that of divorce.  The statistics tell us that roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce, but that's the general number.  When we look at couples who share a faith, and practice that faith actively in their lives the number drops significantly.  Now, it's not possible to generalize in a homily about all of the specifics of human relationships, but the numbers point to something important, and that could very well be the work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Unity, helping to overcome certain things that would otherwise lead to divorce.

Getting even more specific now, we can look within ourselves.  One of the consequences of Original Sin was a division within each one of us, as St. Paul reminds us, our Spirits thirst for the things of God, while our bodies and minds so often incline us to sin.  However, through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the grace we receive from him, through prayer, through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we are given the strength to fight against this division in ourselves.  Through the grace of the Holy Spirit we can turn our bodies and minds to the things of God.  Make no mistake, the division will continue to be there, at least until our souls are reunited with our glorified bodies in the resurrection, but the grace of the Holy Spirit can help us overcome our divisions, our inclinations to sin, and draw us to God.

So we pray that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Unity may come among us, to help us to overcome sin and the divisions it creates; that He may give us true unity, in our world, in our Church, in our homes, and in ourselves.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

From the Lost Practices File - Meatless Fridays

Under this heading I hope to introduce another new (and ideally) regular feature, the Lost Practices File.  Since the Second Vatican Council there has been much confusion about what is still part of our Catholic life, many things have sadly been forgotten, things which contributed not only to our spiritual lives, but to our identiy as Catholics, I hope to offer some insights.

This post has been on the shelf since early in Lent (or should I say in the draft folder) but perhaps it is somewhat timely given the resolution which the bishops of the UK took last month.  Fairly early on in Lent some parishioners made a startling discovery in our bulletin.  We had printed the rules for Lenten fast and abstinence, but had accidentally printed the American rules, which includes mandatory abstinence from meat on all the Fridays of Lent.  The reaction was actually quite predictable, "Give up meat on Friday, I thought we didn't have to do that anymore."

Well, in fact here in Canada, according to Note 29 in the Liturgical Calendar, "Fridays are days of abstinence from meat, but Catholics my substitute special acts of charity or piety on this day."  Observing Friday as a day of special penance has been a part of Christian life since the beginning.  It is even mentioned in the Didache, a first century document of Christian teaching (look at Chapter 8).  Meatless Fridays did not disappear after Vatican II, they didn't disappear after the New Code of Canon Law came in either in 1983.  However we are given an option, we can perform some other penance.  Of course, it seems that allowing this option has given many the impression that the obligation simply does not exist.  Even for someone aware of it, you might ask on any given Friday, "Have you eaten meat today?"  After the answer comes back "yes", you might ask, "Oh, what do you usually do instead?"  The answer often, sadly is, "Well, nothing."

I would surmise that this is very much a manifestation of the pervasive notion that faith and religion are something that are best left in church, that our faith doesn't spill out into the rest of our week, or the rest of our lives.  Being Catholic, being Christian is not something we do on Sunday for an hour, it must be a part of who we are each and every day if it is to have true meaning, true significance, in our lives.  Penance as a spiritual discipline is one way we enact and embody our love for God (ask any parent, any spouse, and they will tell you that love means sacrifice), it is our way of uniting ourselves to the sufferings of our Lord on Calvary, the ultimate sign of his love for us.  Penance is part of our Christian life, Friday penance is part of our Catholic life.  So this Friday, put some fish on your fork.

Mobile View, Check it Out!

Blogger has just given us a handy new feature that allows for a mobile version of blogs to be viewed on smartphones.  Just scan the barcode!

Musings on the Mass - Reclaiming the Sacristy

The blog is back once again, and I thought I'd bring it back with a few musings on the Sacristy, more specifically, the Sacristy as it is before Mass.  I pondered whether it might be better to give this one a "rant" header, but in all seriousness, this subject is one that deserves a bit more thoughful attention.  Once again, these are some of my own musings, largely from prayerful reflection on personal experience, if you are looking for some practical points on how to achieve what I am going to propose, have a look here at an article over on the New Liturgical Movement Blog.

According to the Code of Canon Law #909, "A priest is not to neglect to prepare himself properly through prayer for the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice and to offer thanks to God at its completion."  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal paragraph 45 tells us, "Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner."

It seems the mind of the Church is in favour of silence, particularly before Mass, particularly in the sacristy, to allow all those involved (especially the priest) to prepare themselves in a prayerful and fitting manner.  This indeed is taken from the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the 2002 General Instruction, these are not antiquated rules from the 12th Century, these are the most up to date you could get.  Sadly though, what is our normal experience, the sacristy is a hub of traffic, and conversation before Mass.  The various ministers chatting with each other, and saddest of all, the priest most often encouraging the chatter, often instigating it.  Before we go further, let's not fail to affirm the positive, no doubt my brother priests are being pastoral in their own way, trying to catch up on the latest developments among their parishioners, but one has to ask the question, is it the appropriate time and is it the appropriate way?

Many of these same priests are the ones who complain about those occasions when the church is filled with those who seldom attend Mass, and the noise in the church reaches deafening proportions.  Why the double standard, why should silence in the church be normal for those attending the Mass, but constant conversation rather than prayerful preparation be the norm for the ministers?  Sadly too, our modern architecture doesn't help matters.  Traditionally the sacristy took on the appearance of a small chapel, even the most mudane sacristies had a solemn appearance.  Today many sacristies resemble work rooms, the vesting table covered in paperwork, rather than the necessities for Mass.

Again, I appeal to my brothers, if we want to restore a sense of the sacred, if we want to restore reverence, we need to lead the way by our own example.  Let us keep silence in the sacristy, let us not criticize our brothers who want silence in the sacristy, let us show the importance of what we do when we put on the sacred vestments, by making the time before Mass a time of prayerful preparation rather than constant conversation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time Drawn Into Eternity Conference: Papers of Bishop Elliott and Fr. Van der Putten, FSSP

Time Drawn Into Eternity Conference: Papers of Bishop Elliott and Fr. Van der Putten, FSSP

Two very imporant liturgical papers, definitely worth a read.

Two excerpts speaking about our present Holy Father's liturgical vision:

"His [the Pope's] cosmological vision of the Eucharist explains the Pope’s appreciation for celebrating the Eucharist ad orientem, that is, towards the East. Led by the priest, the pilgrim people turn towards the Light of the risen Lord, reigning in his cosmos and coming again in his parousia. As cardinal he was well aware of the cultural difficulty of appreciating this ancient universal Christian symbolism in the secularized Western World. But he did not even consider that ignorant expression we still hear, celebrating Mass “with his back to the people”. That misses the whole point of the priest who is leading a worship procession towards the Lord."

"By word and demeanor he reminds us that liturgy is a gift to be received in humility, not something we construct for ourselves, not a fabrication. Here he strongly rejects a decadent style of liturgy that set in soon after Vatican II. That style was contrived to be a deliberate break with the past."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayers for the Asian Earthquake Victims

Greetings friends, I'm sure the whole world knows about the devestating events that have taken place in China and Japan, and the suffering that continues.   I'm also sure that many of us are joined in prayer for all those affected.  What you may not know is that there are Mass texts found in the Roman Missal for just such occasions.  The section is entitled "Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions", and I just offer three texts found in that section (from the 1975 Missal, not the new translation yet) to aid in our prayer for the victims of the natural disasters (the prayers are really meant for those directly affected, but I'm sure you can modify them as you see fit):

In Time of Earthquake:

God our Father,
you set the earth on its foundation.
Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes
and let us always feel the presence of your love.
May we be secure in your protection
and serve you with grateful hearts.

For Fine Weather:

All-powerful and ever-living God,
we find security in your forgiveness.
Give us the fine weather we pray for
so that we may rejoice in your gifts of kindness
and use them always for your glory and our good.

To Avert Storms:

all the elements of nature obey your command.
Calm the storms that threaten us
and turn our fear of your power
into praise of your goodness.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Translation Finally Approved

The new translation of the Roman Missal has finally received the Recognitio for implementation in Canada.  For those unfamiliar with the process, each Conference of Bishops must submit requests for local adaptations for the Missal, such as the inclusion of local saints not celebrated universally, or other local adaptations.  Most other English speaking jurisdictions in the world received their Recognitio some time ago, but Canada has still been waiting.  This means that we can implement the new translation on the First Sunday of Advent along with the rest of the English speaking world.  If you don't believe me, the following is an excerpt from the Bishop of Hamilton's weekly communiqué:

"THE CCCB RECEIVED THE 'RECOGNITIO' FOR THE ROMAN MISSAL recently. At meetings of the Executive and Permanent Council is was decided that the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (posture, etc.) will be implemented on September 25th and the Roman Missal itself will be implemented on the First Sunday of Advent."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cardinals: liturgical abuse weakens the faith |

Cardinals: liturgical abuse weakens the faith |

Another good article to read. In the same day, an article on the Liturgy's effects on morality, and one on it's effects on faith, I hope everyone is listening.

Musings on the Mass - A Question of Orientation

(Despite the title, this has nothing to do with the previous post.)

To begin this post, a reminder, these musings are simply my prayerful reflections on my own experience of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I am not attempting to offer any strict theological arguments.  If you are looking for theology on the subject, check out Turning Towards the Lord by Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang, and The Spirit of the Liturgy by Pope Benedict as two starting points.

Although my priesthood is still somewhat in its infancy (having not yet reached my second anniversary), I have had the opportunity to celebrate Mass ad orientem (facing the same direction as the congregation) on a number of occasions.  The vast majority of the Masses I have celebrated have been versus populum (facing towards the people), but I have celebrated perhaps a dozen Masses turned "the other way around".  You might be thinking that I am referring to the Extraordinary Form, however I have only had the opportunity to celebrate that form of the Mass twice.  The other perhaps ten times have been Masses celebrated for small groups, but in the Ordinary Form, and in English.

The first of these occasions was after just a month of ordination, and just this one experience gave me a profound change of outlook on the way I celebrate Mass.  Saying Mass with the congregation behind me, demonstrated to me just how much I felt the need to "perform" for the people in front of me when saying Mass facing them.  My awareness of that came largely through the absence of that desire when facing the other way.  If I had never celebrated Mass ad orientem, most likely I would never have noticed.

Of course I have heard the classic argument that when the priest faces ad orientem it inhibits participation, but remember, these were Ordinary Form, vernacular Masses, the people were still making the same response, saying the same prayers, hearing the same words, I was just facing the other way (of course we could get into the true nature of "participation", but I'll leave that for another day).  Likewise, I was not up there "doing my own thing" as often claimed of the Extraordinary Form, I was very much aware of the congregation behind me, even if I wasn't looking directly at them.

As I began to reflect further on the experience, I also recognized a greater sense of being (wait for it...) the servant of the people when facing ad orientem.  When facing the altar, I was now facing God, I was there on behalf of all of the people gathered behind me, I was offering the sacrifice of the Mass to God, on behalf of the assembled congregation, I was not there as the "leader" or the "presider", ruling over the people from my chair three steps higher than everyone else, I was there as the intermediary between God and his people, offering the sacrifice for the sins of the people.

Once again, I will remind you that these are just my own musings, my own subjective experience, but I would challenge my brother priests, just try it, once or twice.  Make sure it's in a church (if there's a tabernacle in the centre so much the better), make sure you have at least a few people in the congregation, not just you and a server, do it in the Ordinary Form, do it in the vernacular, then reflect on the experience afterward.  You just might find it changes your perspective on things, in more ways than one.

Liturgy’s effect on gay 'marriage' debate :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Liturgy’s effect on gay 'marriage' debate :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Have a read of this article.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Rant, Because It's My Blog - The Proper Use of "Bishop"

...after all, what's the point of having a blog if you can't go on a rant every now and then.

Last Sunday I had the privilege of assisting our Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop with the celebration of Confirmation at a neighbouring parish and the experience got me pondering, of all things, the direction in which our English language is headed.  To be more specific, I began to ponder how we have started to use the word "bishop", and what that might mean.

I think most would agree that our English language has gone downhill over the past century.  If you read anything written by someone with even a mediocre education from the 19th century or even the early part of the 20th century, then read something written by a university graduate in the last couple of decades it's clear that there has been a marked decline in the quality of the English language, at least in how it is used.  As someone quipped recently on another blog, in a couple of generations we have gone from teaching Greek and Latin in high school, to teaching remedial English in university.

Now to the rant, let's take a look at the word "bishop", for those with some understanding of English grammar and syntax, this word functions as a common noun, but not a proper noun, but we have started to use it as a proper noun.  A small and trivial point you say, let's look at it in context, the word "bishop", is much like the word "priest".  Pass a priest you know on the street, and say to him "Hello priest", isn't that more of an insult, but yet we think nothing of saying, "Hello bishop".

In case you didn't know, the proper way to address a bishop is "Your Excellency".  Ah, but I hear the objections now, let's look at a few of the common ones.  First, "Your Excellency" is too formal, we want to make the bishop seem more approachable.  Well, if the bishop has to resort to simplifying his proper title to seem more approachable, maybe he needs to learn to smile more.  Second, calling the bishop "Your Excellency" is simply too difficult for the children in the confirmation class.  Really?  Thirteen-year-old children can't learn, remember, and say a four syllable word, has our education system failed that badly?  Third, formal titles like these just aren't a part of our culture any more, we function more casually.  Let me offer a story for this point.  Several years ago I was taking a summer course in Ottawa, during my downtime one day I went on a tour of Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada's Governor General.  As the tour progressed we passed by the Ball Room (if you have ever seen an Order of Canada presentation, or the swearing in of a new government, you know the room of which I'm speaking), and in the Ball Room is a chair which is used only by the Governor General.  A small boy on the tour, perhaps only 7 or 8 asked the tour guide, "Is that where Adrienne sits?" (a reference to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson).  The tour guide immediately corrected the child, "Yes, that is where Her Excellency sits."  (The title "Excellency" is also accorded by civil custom to the Governor General of Canada).  A tour guide working for a civil authority would not accept the familiarization or 'dumbing down' of the proper title of a government figure, even from an 8-year-old child, but we don't blink at the same thing when done to a bishop of the Church.

For centuries the Church has not only been the guardian of faith and moral teaching, but the de facto guardian of art and culture as well, but over the past several decades we have abdicated that responsibility and gone along with the debasement and banalization of culture that has gone on around us.  Maybe it's time we start to reclaim our role as guardians of culture, and perhaps we can begin with the language we use.  The next time you see a bishop flash him a smile, and give him a nice "Hello Your Excellency".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Identity Revealed

Not that it was a great mystery, since most of you who have been reading this blog have been linking to it from my Facebook page, but in case you didn't know, my name is Fr. Brendan McGrath, a priest of the Diocese of Hamilton.  I wanted this blog to be more about the content than the author, but decided there really isn't any great need for anonymity any longer, especially seeing as I've provided a link to my Twitter feed as well.  Neverthless, it's still about the content, not the author.

Sunday Homily - Seek First the Kingdom of God

“Holiness”, it's one of those words that we hear so often in religious contexts, at Church, in homilies, that it begins to lose its meaningfulness.  It's also one of those words, one of those ideas, which just seems to be for someone else.  We can look at the example of so many of the saints and think, “holiness is not for me, I couldn't possibly be a saint like those others.”  This idea, that holiness is for someone else, is not a new one, it has been a part of our consciousness for a long time, in fact if you ask someone of an older generation, particularly a priest who was ordained before the Second Vatican Council, they could tell you that there used to be different levels of holiness, or so it was thought. 

It used to be understood that there were three levels of holiness, at the top of the list were the monks and nuns, the ones who lived in the monasteries and convents, cloistered away from the rest of the world, who spent their entire day praying and working, it was just assumed that they were automatically at the top of the holiness list.  Second came the secular or diocesan priests, they live and work in the world, but because they are in close contact with holy things, the Sacraments, and were schooled in prayer and theology, they were thought to be second on the holiness list.  Finally at the bottom of the list came everyone else, who couldn’t possibly ascend to the levels of holiness occupied by those at the top of the list.

This idea that “holiness is for someone else” has been challenged in the last few decades by a teaching, often called the “Universal Call to Holiness”, it teaches that holiness is for everyone, not just a select few, that we are all called to be saints, and not just after we die, but right here and right now.  This teaching is a very ancient one, if we look to many of the writings of St. Paul, we find that he refers to the Christians in the communities to which he is writing as “Saints”.  Of course someone could raise the objection, “but what about all the Canonized Saints, they’re all priests and religious, where are all the laypeople?”  Well, certainly there are many laypeople among the list of Canonized Saints, though sadly we don’t hear too much about them.

Then there’s the second argument, “of course there are more priests and religious who are saints, it’s easier for them.  Priests and religious don’t have the same cares and concerns as everyone else.  The monks in the monastery have a place to live, their meals are provided for them, they have their habits to wear, and even their days is worked out for them, they have time to work, and lots of time to pray.  The priests may be working in the world looking after the parish and the needs of the people, but they still have their rectory provided, bills are paid, and they don’t even have to worry about what to wear in the morning, they just wear the same uniform every day.  For the rest of us, we just don’t have time to pray.”  This, my friends, is what our gospel is all about today.

In our gospel today, our Lord challenges us about where our priorities should be.  He says to “first seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” and all of our other needs will be cared for by our Father in heaven.  It’s an invitation to examine our priorities, to see if God occupies the first place in our life, and a challenge to grow in our faith, if we don’t believe that God will provide for our needs.  As we begin our examination, it might we worthwhile first, to look at our cares and concerns and worries, and see which ones are real concerns, because so often we simply manufacture cares and concerns for ourselves.

Perhaps I could offer a practical example, though a bit of an absurd one.  Not all that long ago there was a commercial on television; I believe it was for a laundry detergent.  The commercial featured a girl, who spent the length of the commercial complaining about the fact that she had to wear her older sister’s hand-me-down jeans, instead of the nice new pair.  Is this a real concern, or a manufactured one?  I’m sure we could come up with many other examples to illustrate the point, but it is worth it to look at all of the things about which we spend time worrying, and see just how many of them are manufactured worries, ones that we create for ourselves.

Then of course, what about those genuine worries, the real needs, putting food on the table, mortgage payments, car payments; the authentic necessities.  Our Lord invites us to lay them at his feet, and don’t worry about them.  Allow me to offer another short story to illustrate this point.  There was a young man who was a couple of years behind me in the seminary.  He realized that he was not going to be able to cover his costs to continue his studies (as we progressed in the seminary the diocese would cover more and more of our costs, but at the beginning we would have to pay our entire tuition and some other fees).  He could have started worrying, fretted about finding a second or third job over the summer in order to pay for his studies, but what did he do?  He prayed, he essentially said, “God, if you want me to be a priest, I need to study in the seminary, but I can’t afford to study in the seminary, so if you want me to be a priest, you need to handle this situation.”  Low and behold, a donation came in which covered his costs and he was able to continue.

Naturally, we must be ready to accept that from time to time, we may pray for something, and not get it, God may be telling us that what we think is a need, isn’t one, it’s a want, but if we rely on him, he will always give us what we truly need.

Our Lord invites us, through our gospel today to focus on what is truly necessary, to make God, his kingdom, and his righteousness to be our first priority.  He invites us to place our needs at his feet and know that he will take care of them.  If we do so, if we make prayer and holiness our first priority and leave the rest to God, then we will begin to see saints among us, we will begin to see holiness all around us.  Holiness will no longer be for someone else, somewhere else, it will no longer be only for those who have “the time” to pray, but it will be for each and every one of us, right here, and right now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Blog is Back

Dear readers (however few in number you may be), after a bit of a hiatus, Great and Glorious is back, with a bit of a redesigned layout.  It's not that I don't like the Blessed Mother, but two dozen Marys was, I think, a bit much.  The new design I hope is a bit less visually distracting, and of course highlights what is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful Cathedral church in all of Canada, and by the way, the haze in the picture is not a photographic error, it would not be Hamilton without air you could see after all.  Regular posting will resume this week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Last Week of Advent - December 24th

The final day of preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation tonight and tomorrow; the Solemnity of Christmas.  Today's Mass sadly is so often missed, with the multiplication of Christmas Eve Masses, priests simply don't have the time, the energy, or the canonical permission to offer the Mass proper to the morning of December 24th.  The Gospel for today is the Benedictus, the prayer, or rather the hymn that Zechariah offers to God when he regains his speech.  Twice in the context of this hymn does Zechariah state that God will deliver us from our enemies, make us free and without fear.  What is it that we fear, we live in a culture that seems to thrive on fear.  But God promises us an existence without fear, an existence of total trust, faith, and confidence, but it comes from Him, and only if we rely on Him, will it come to us.  Lord God, free us from all fear, free us from the hands of our enemies, give us true faith and confidence in you.