Thursday, September 13, 2018

More on the abuse crisis:


I have had a couple more weeks to reflect since writing my statement for the parish. Since then, I have also been asked to write a statement for the Catholic Social Workers' National Association, since I am the priest on the board. You can see the statement at cswna.org or below. 

The most common thought I keep having is that it seems we are in a decades or centuries long lull of many priests and bishops failing to call the faithful to holiness. The evidence in the media shows that many are not willing to live it themselves. Imagine if the faithful would have the resolve to grow in holiness and demand the same of their priests and bishops. Catholic media seem to be the only ones talking about it still. How long will it stay on the minds of the faithful?

Here is the statement at cswna.org:
As Catholic social workers, we stand ready to serve the victims of this abuse or any abuse. We stand with the victims in solidarity, supporting them in our work and praying for their healing and comfort. Also, as Catholic social workers, we uphold the constant Personalistic Norm that demands respect for every human being, made in God’s image. Because of this universal demand for respect, we condemn any act of abuse on any person. Because we are Catholic, we uphold the truth that purity is an aid to wholeness as human persons. Any act of impurity, whether legal or illegal, is an assault on the good of the human person. We invite all people of faith to a conversion of heart that increases their own personal holiness. As this personal holiness for Catholics increases, we will automatically demand holiness and accountability in our priests and bishops. At the same time, we welcome the leadership of the Church’s faithful clergy to lead us on the journey of holiness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Here are some new items from the Archdiocese:

Archbishop Schnurr’s interview on Sacred Heart Radio:

At http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/ you will find the Archbishop’s statement and schedules for a Day of Prayer for the Church and the Victims of Abuse on Friday, September 14, the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, at three venues: St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, St. Joseph (Dayton), and St. Michael (Fort Loramie). All are invited to participate.

Below is my personal reflection on the crisis:

Beloved in Christ,

Over the past several weeks, I have read statements and listened to talks by some of my favorite bishops, priests and lay people regarding the scandal in the Church. I wish I could share all the good points being made, but there is just too much material. I do; however, encourage all the faithful to pray for the victims and show support for the victims. Secondly, I want to condemn any act of abuse, especially any against a minor. I hope the people who committed these acts repent sincerely.

Whenever things like this make the news, we get the question from friends, family and colleagues: “Why are you still Catholic?” For me, personally, it takes me back to the year 2002 right after I began discerning my vocation to the priesthood.

I first met with Fr. Watkins, the vocation director of the Archdiocese, in December of 2001. The next day, I met with my girlfriend and we ended our relationship, so I could discern my vocation. By the time of my third meeting with Fr. Watkins in the interview process, we were into February of 2002. You may recall, in February of 2002 there was an explosion of similar reports beginning with the Archdiocese of Boston and spreading to every other diocese in the United States.

During the interview process, Fr. Watkins asked me: “Is this stuff in the news affecting you at all?” I replied, “No, it’s not affecting me.” As he started to shuffle papers on his desk, I told him I wanted to change my answer. I told him that the abuse crisis was affecting me. It made me have a greater desire to want to be a faithful priest. We were hearing about some unfaithful priests every day in the news media. Although they were very small in number, they were messing things up for everyone else and tarnishing the Bride of Christ, His Church, with their evil.

I have always been 100% convinced of the authenticity of the Catholic Church. Even before studying theology, I knew that Christ founded the Church on the Rock of St. Peter and the other Apostles, and that they sent out their successors to the rest of the world with His authentic teachings and authority of Jesus Christ. Now there were some guys messing it all up for everyone else.

My reaction now feels very similar to that of 2002. How could these men who promised to be both pure, and to strive for holiness, do the exact opposite and commit the most condemnable acts? As things unfolded, we started hearing that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was actually ahead of the curve. Archbishop Pilarczyk set up a child protection policy in 1993 before it was mandated by the bishops’ conference. I also noticed back in 2002 that the clear majority of cases we were hearing about were from decades before. Now in 2018, it seems that two things are happening. It seems that we are once again revisiting the cases of decades past, but at the same time, there seems to be more evidence that some bishops in our country were not as diligent as they should have been in making sure people were held accountable and things were reported. The increased anger among the faithful makes me optimistic that we will not have to deal with this again in another 16 years.

The revelations about the former Cardinal McCarrick remind me of the time before entering seminary. I was told about how things were in the early 1990s with the presence of a homosexual subculture. This was obviously cleaned up by the time I arrived. I did not see any evidence of such things in my six years there. Our local seminary has an excellent system of forming men to be faithful priests.

I think a great opportunity for purification of the Church is in front of us. We have been given a stark reminder of the universal call to holiness and faithfulness. This call is universal because it is for all God’s people: from the laity to the pope, and everyone in between. Not even popes and cardinals are exempt from the need of a continual conversion of heart.

We see from Jesus’ encounter with St. Paul in Acts 9:4-5 that He equates Himself with His Church. This gives me the confidence to answer like St. Peter did in last Sunday’s Gospel: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

I am happy to discuss this issue with anyone who would like. Please report any suspected abuse on the part of any agent of the Archdiocese to the appropriate civil authorities, as well as to the Coordinator of Ministry to Survivors of Abuse in the Archdiocese.  This can be done by calling 513.263.6623.

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bedel

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Bulletin article for this week and next


Beloved in Christ,

A very interesting question keeps coming up. During the course of RCIA earlier this year, someone asked about the proper way to hold hands during the Our Father at Mass. It led to a very lively discussion. Then at WOW’s “Ask Padre” someone also asked about holding hands during the Our Father. More recently, at a question-and-answer session with the Knights of Columbus, one of those gentlemen also asked about it. This past week, at the men’s Welcome (formerly Christ Renews His Parish) meeting, it was also asked. So, there is evidently a desire for clarification among the faithful. Below I will attempt to give as comprehensive an answer as possible. I will lay out my understanding of the meaning of the liturgical posture during the Our Father at Mass and allow adults to make their own informed decision about their posture and the posture of their children during Mass.

If we were in a classroom setting, I would ask the question: “In what ways do we show our unity at Mass?” and write all the answers on the board. People might answer with things like: our common posture such as sitting and standing and kneeling. Others might answer: responding together, singing together, maybe the sign of peace. Some might even mention the most awesome and ultimate way we show our unity: And it’s not holding hands at the Our Father, it’s receiving Holy Communion.

What do we do with our hands in prayer? Obviously, some people hold hands. Everyone is familiar with the very ancient and common: palms together with fingers pointing to the sky. Another ancient posture is the orans position, which means hands out to the side with palms up. This orans position is perfectly legitimate for personal prayer, but at liturgy, it usually indicates a position of leadership, presiding or gathering the prayers of others.

At the Our Father, the priest gives the introduction of it with his hands closed and then he opens his hands in the orans position as he says the words: “Our Father…” This is one of those times the priest is collecting the prayers of all the faithful into one as the words of Christ are presented to the Father in Heaven.

So we might ask: What are the people to do? We already covered the priest: he has to hold his hands out in the orans position because he is collecting the prayers of all in his role of leadership. We can explore this question more deeply by noticing what the deacon is doing. We notice that at the Lord’s Prayer, the deacon will have his hands closed in prayer the whole time. He is not permitted to open his hands in the orans position during the Lord’s Prayer, because it is the priest who is “collecting” them to the Father. So, we might ask: If a deacon, who is an ordained minister, serving at the altar during Mass, in an official capacity, prays the Lord’s Prayer with his hands closed, why would the lay faithful open their hands like the priest does? It would be more appropriate for the faithful to imitate the deacon, rather than the priest.

On a side note, a parishioner at a previous parish, who grew up in the New England area, said that as a child her class was instructed never to open their hands like the priest at Mass because that might seem like they were mocking him.

What about the other question: Should the faithful be holding hands during the Our Father? Catch the exciting conclusion of this column in next week’s Pearl of York bulletin.

Thanks for your prayers. Be assured of my daily prayers for you.

In Christ,
Fr. Bedel


Beloved in Christ,

Let’s pick up where we left off last week. Should the faithful be holding hands during the Our Father? I would answer with another question: Why just during the Our Father? Why did we not hold hands during the opening hymn, the Collect, during the readings, during the Gospel, during the Eucharistic Prayer? So, my answer would be, it would only make sense liturgically if we were holding hands during the whole Mass. And I think we would all agree that would be strange.

As I mentioned previously, we do many things at Mass that show our unity, and our ultimate sign of unity is the act of receiving Holy Communion, hence the name “Communion.” It is a unity that is made real by the power of Christ, not human beings. Since we have a real and intimate communion with him that he establishes by his divine power, we are, by association, united to each other in real communion. Holding hands at the Our Father, or any other time, may look like a sign of unity, but it is made by human power, not God’s.

Some people have wondered how holding hands came into the liturgy over the past few decades. I heard one person guess that people were imitating the priest in the orans position and then they started to bump their hands into each other and then they just decided to grab each other’s hands. My theory is that some families hold hands during grace before meals and they have tried to introduce it into the sacred liturgy.

And then, after the Our Father, why do some people raise their hands really high when we say: “For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever.”? I have no idea where that comes from, but we can learn something from concelebrating priests. That’s when there is more than one priest offering Mass at the same time. All priests celebrating or concelebrating Mass are acting in the Person of Christ and are therefore collecting the prayers of the people to the Father as we say the words of Christ himself, in his prayer, so all priests pray in the orans position. After we say: “Deliver us from evil,” the concelebrating priests have to close their hands. Only the one main celebrant can keep his hands open showing his role of leadership in the Church’s prayer. Mass continues with: “Deliver us Lord, we pray…” These prayers were devised by the Church, not directly by God, as is the case with the Our Father. Therefore, the main celebrant assumes his role of leadership by maintaining hands in the orans position while all concelebrating priests close their hands.

Several years ago, Bishop Foys across the river had all his parishes in the Diocese of Covington do catechesis on why is would not be proper to hold hands during the Our Father at Mass. He actually asked the faithful of his diocese not to do it. As I said above, I’m not making a rule today, but will allow adults of the parish to make an informed decision for themselves and their children. I am trying to unpack what is proper and improper at Holy Mass and why we are doing what we are doing. The most I am considering is asking the altar servers to follow the example of the deacon because they are assisting at the liturgy in an official capacity.

I have always wondered: how prayerful can it be to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer? Am I thinking about the words of the prayer or am I distracted by the other person’s hand, which may be sweaty, cold, hot, etc.? When I was teaching high school, I would see students use it as an opportunity to mess with each other. I remember two seniors rubbing each other’s fingers trying to get the other one to giggle.

It really comes down to this: How can I, or how can our family, celebrate these mysteries with greater devotion? How can we understand more and more why we do what we do as a Church? How is the Lord drawing me into His presence?

Thanks for your prayers. Be assured of my daily prayers for you.

In Christ,
Fr. Bedel


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Good articles that caught my eye today

Enjoy!

https://aleteia.org/2018/08/08/human-nature-seeks-a-do-it-yourself-religion-pope-explains-why/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en

https://churchpop.com/2018/08/08/you-are-either-with-god-or-against-him-there-is-no-middle-ground-priest-warns/


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Catholic Alternatives to Yoga

It seems to me that Yoga is quite popular among many people. However, as Christians, we are often warned about the integral connections Yoga has with Eastern spirituality. This is important because it can take us away from God, rather than making us closer to Him. Some experts discuss how Yoga can be a doorway into New Age or occult practices.

I came across this article which gives five alternatives for people who want the physical benefits of Yoga without the concern of going down a spiritually destructive path. The article offers:
Prayer Motion

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Who is responsible for the death of Jesus?


There’s a popular catch phrase in the Church: “Meet the people where they’re at.” Proper use of the English language reminds us never to end a sentence with a preposition, so the phrase could be adjusted to: “Meet the people where they are.” Either way, I think it applies to this situation.
The week before Palm Sunday, I overheard someone express disapproval with a homily I gave two weeks prior at the school Mass. This person admitted to not being at that Mass, but evidently heard that it might not have been appropriate for children. So, it goes like this:
On that Friday, which is now almost a month ago, the Gospel was one of those ones we hear frequently during Lent, where the Jews are trying to kill Jesus. It even uses the words: “The Jews were trying to kill him.”
The kindergarteners were not at Mass, only 1st through 8th grades, and the normal assembly of adults and infants. As the school children hear these Gospels, which they should, they may think that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. But hopefully they are learning their Faith, and my homily only came as a reminder of what they have already been learning.
So, I pointed out in my homily that it might seem like the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, but as the story played out, the Jews didn’t actually kill Jesus, but the Romans did. Then, I asked the rhetorical question: Are the Romans responsible for the death of Jesus? Maybe we could place all the blame on Judas for his betrayal…
What does the Church teach in the name of Christ her founder? The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us in paragraphs 597 and 598 that the personal sin of the participants is known to God alone, and that Jesus and St. Peter asked God to forgive the participants for their ignorance.
I remember I had to learn this in second grade before going to confession. Why did I have to go to confession in the first place? For my sins. And why are my sins a big deal? They put Jesus on the Cross. I learned the reality that I was a sinner, and that God loved me enough to go through all of that for me. At the age of reason, we are supposed to be able to understand this. If we can’t understand it, we cannot be ready for Holy Communion either. I let the first graders know since they had not yet reached the age of reason, they had no responsibility for the death of Jesus.
The Catechism quotes Sacred Scripture and the Tradition down through the ages that “sinners were the authors and ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.” The Church admits that we Christians have the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus. The Catechism quotes St. Francis of Assisi: “It is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Homily

Today’s Gospel reminds us of God’s mercy. One major point our Lord makes is that we are to be thankful for His generous gift of mercy. But in the parable we notice some grumbling. This may remind us of a character in another parable, the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Of course it is wrong to resent God’s lavish mercy given to others. We are called to be thankful that someone has been saved. We should rejoice that God has compassion on everyone he has created. Furthermore, this Gospel is consoling for us if we have loved ones who remain far from the Lord’s vineyard.

We have received an invitation. We are called to be faithful laborers in God’s vineyard. We are called to help to bring about the kingdom, to do some good in the world. It’s a matter of stewardship. Our lives are not our own. Every day is God’s gift. Every day is an opportunity to love. We have a job to do so that more people can know Him.

We are honored to work in the vineyard. The landowner in the parable represents God. The vineyard represents God’s Kingdom. Therefore, marketplace represents the world. We are called out of the marketplace of the world into the vineyard of God’s Kingdom. We become members of the Church by being called. The English and German words for “Church” come from the Greek word “Kyriakon” which means “of the Lord.” So, if we are the Lord’s, we were called out from where we were. The Spanish and Italian words for “Church” come from the Greek word, “ecclesia” which means those who are called out.

St. Gregory the Great asks how energetically are we working in the vineyard? Will our friends or relatives be able to say at the end of their lives that we were concerned about their ultimate good? When we look at our lives, we should notice this is the location of the vineyard. This is where God inserted us. This is where he invites us to work. It is in our very own family setting where God has invited us to become saints. The temptation is to wait for “better opportunities” or for things to become more perfect. Waiting is idleness. The spiritually idle are those who don’t know Christ. Of course, this is not good. Many people will or will not know Christ because of our example. St. John Paul II says there is no place for idleness.

Through the Prophet Isaiah in our first reading, God says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” Jesus further illustrates it in the parable. The landowner is relentless in inviting laborers into his vineyard. He goes out five times. God is taking the initiative in reaching out to us all the time. We are unworthy. We have rejected him every time we fall into sin. Why don’t we hear him? Maybe we’re not praying. Maybe we’re distracted by trivial things of the world. Plus, he’s hiring rejects. That’s why they haven’t been hired yet. The worldly mindset says the rejects get rewarded but not at the level as the elite. Jesus challenges that mindset.

In the parable, why did some laborers grumble? Perhaps it shows a lack of conversion of heart. St. Thomas Aquinas: “he is properly evil who sorrows over goodness.” Even if we have been in the Lord’s vineyard our whole life, He is still calling us to continual conversion. In our continual conversion, we grow in the virtue of charity, the greatest of all virtues. The more enlarged my heart is from practicing charity, the more reward I will be able to accept which is the Lord’s free gift. If we develop habits of practicing charity we will recognize the Lord who is Charity. If charity is foreign to us, the One who is Charity will be foreign to us. That’s why we reject Him when He calls us.

We also notice the landowner didn’t force workers to come to his vineyard. He invited them. This reminds me of the saying: God created us without our consent, but he will not save us without our cooperation. God respects our consent. That’s why the reward can be so awesome. That’s why the laborer can receive the wages that are coming to him. These wages are God’s blessings. His ultimate blessing upon us is Himself, communion with Him now and Heaven for eternity. Heaven = God. The workers hired late were headed toward eternal rejection, but thanks be to God, they accepted his invitation. What about us? Perhaps we can recognize God’s mercy and generosity and accept His invitation to continual conversion.

Some scholars say that those hired early in the parable represent the Israelites, and those hired later represent the Gentiles, the people of the other nations. It is also equally valid to say those hired early represent cradle Catholics who stay faithful, and those hired later represent converts and reverts to the faith. Our attitude should always say “Welcome home!”


Call to conversion is for all. Our first reading says it well: “Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts.” That’s you and me because we have fallen into sin. Then Isaiah continues: “Let him turn to the Lord for mercy.” We enter into these sacred mysteries where God offers us an abundance of grace so that we can be effective in sharing Christ with the world. We can follow the command of St. Paul: Conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.