Monday, May 18, 2020

A Coronavirus Opportunity: What is Mass?


Yesterday, I celebrated my 12th anniversary as a priest. Thanks for your prayers! When I was a newly ordained priest, I began my first assignment as parochial vicar to a new pastor who had only been a priest for two years. He told me a story in his previous assignment where a parishioner told him she liked his Masses better than the other priest. I expected he was about to tell me how good this made him feel. However, he surprised me that he told the lady that she just gave him the biggest insult she could give a priest. His vocation was to facilitate an encounter with Christ, not to be the center of attention. Once the priest became the focus, it was all over.

The current tragedy of the faithful being away from Mass has given members of the Church the opportunity to ponder many things that we seem to do second nature or take for granted. For example, my Archbishop has asked that all priests offer private Mass daily while public Mass is suspended. A private Mass may or may not have anyone else there assisting. It has been a great reminder that the vast majority of the words of the Mass are spoken in prayer to the Heavenly Father while very few are spoken to the people in the assembly. Mass is prayer and worship offered to God, not an opportunity for me to interact with the congregation. However, since priests were ordered to face the people during Mass in the wake of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, more emphasis has been placed on the priest’s ability to engage with the assembly. Before the Council, priest and assembly were all facing the same direction in a procession of sorts toward the glory of the returning Christ in the liturgical east, symbolized by the rising sun. Much like a pilot in an aircraft with the passengers behind him, or a guide, leading pilgrims through the fire swamp to the glory of freedom on the other side, it would not make sense for the priest to face the people the whole time. Joseph Ratzinger treats liturgical direction very well in his book Spirit of the Liturgy.

With the priest facing the people, we now have a closed circle. While it can be a legitimate arrangement for prayer, it lacks the sense of a procession with direction that we would have with everyone facing the same direction: priest and people. This article points out the closed circle at least has something of a human symbol. Now with all the live-streamed Masses happening, there isn’t even that. It’s a priest facing a camera, often times with his back to the crucifix and the tabernacle.

Whether we speak of Mass with an assembly or those live-streamed, we would be wise to take caution in entering into a cult of personality around a charismatic priest who is found extremely “engaging.” Are we having an emotional encounter with the priest because of his stories, jokes, and the emotional high we achieved? Or, is he a faceless man that leads me to an authentic encounter with Christ? What are we coming to Mass to see, hear, encounter? The right answer to all of these is that which is invisible, inaudible and veiled in the mysteries of the sacraments. At my live-streamed Masses, I have been fortunate enough to have a crucifix on the altar in front of me, and beyond the crucifix is the tabernacle in the middle of the nave, temporarily, thus giving me the ideal of liturgical east. The camera is off to the side somewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Ultimate Loophole

I kept pondering the loophole as I wrote most of this post on January 23rd. We sadly commemorated Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton the day before with the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The following day I left the house at 3 AM for the March for Life. During this time of year, we get the opportunity to hear and read more about the pro-life movement and its rival: the culture of death.
One thing that continues to befuddle me is that so many adults buy into the loophole mentality. Almost every adult human can reason the point, and agrees, it is wrong to kill another human being. We vastly agree: All humans must avoid killing other humans; and those who kill other humans should be punished greatly. Yet, in the 21st Century, about half of adult humans are at least sometimes OK with killing the unborn. This is the ultimate loophole. The loophole says: If you get the killing done while she's in the womb, then it's not wrong like killing someone outside the womb.
We rightly lament the fact that throughout the history of humanity, people have invented all sorts of devices for killing other humans. In the loophole mentality, the instruments to kill the unborn are still OK because once again the loophole says: If you get the killing done while she's in the womb, then it's not wrong like killing someone outside the womb.
She is the same human being, whether inside the womb or outside.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Wake Up!

I love this theme of "Wake Up!"
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-takes-to-twitter-urges-faithful-to-wake-up-to-civilizations-destruction
If taken far enough, perhaps it could bring about the real change of direction we need in the world. It seems that many in the culture want to attack the symptom without addressing the underlying pathology. Why are so many surprised that unstable people act out in violence when they were raised playing violent video games living in the culture of death? We now have two generations of people who were raised with abortion on demand being the "law of the land." If the lives of the unborn are disposable, why would we expect respect for the born.?
Perhaps we will wake up a sleeping giant of common sense and respect.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Autonomy is the new god of the culture of death

Alyssa Milano says she is happy and joyful about her decisions to have two abortions in this article:

https://churchpop.com/2019/08/23/alyssa-milano-denounces-catholic-faith-after-revealing-she-had-2-abortions/?_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8Qe42Kt-lC7prfUPowpyarLTZ9uIJ_xJVn0lasz1jt05gEnWMTV8Fw5JpjRQWSBikgyqvkrUyDEE8JYUMa9YZrdmMJ8A&_hsmi=76038105

My response is the classic: "Me thinks she protesteth too much." I am not convinced of her having any joy and fulfillment as a result of two abortions in order to organize her career. As a matter of fact, it seems she is trying to convince herself more than she is trying to convince me, the reader.

I agree we have to pray for Alyssa Milano and all those who buy into the lie that radical autonomy is a human right. Belly buttons are proof of that. We also need to invite her to repent and come back home to the Church where she will find true and lasting joy in a life of love and service.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Culture War (follow up)

I used the phrase "radical autonomy" in my previous post "Culture War" pointing out the goal of the pro-abortion movement. This article shows that Alyssa Milano admits it on twitter but uses the phrase "bodily autonomy." This is the new gnosticism. It means you decide to do whatever you want with your body and never deal with the bodily consequences of that decision. Of course, this is contrary to reason. You can decide to do the thing that makes babies, but if a baby is made, you can kill the baby as long as you do it before she is born. Of course that is also contrary to reason as the location or size of the human being does not provide her worth. We need to change hearts and change laws to protect the unborn. Thank you Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature for passing the heartbeat bill!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Culture War

The culture war is raging. At one hand some lawmakers in Georgia know that the child in the womb is a complete human being at that particular stage of her development, and therefore must be protected by law. The governor is expected to sign the bill that says the child's life cannot be ended by abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Of course, there are a bunch of exceptions that are still contrary to natural law reasoning, but it should be an incremental step in reducing the number of abortions.
On the other hand, Alyssa Milano is sending letters to these lawmakers and getting other actors to pledge a boycott of Georgia's growing film industry if the bill is made law. Reading the names of some of the actors who have signed the letter of boycott caused me to sarcastically exclaim: "Shocker!" At the same time I wonder why so many people, which seems like half of the country, can disregard the life of the unborn child.
These people are actors, become activists. They probably think they are doing a good thing for women. Because radical autonomy is sacrosanct in the culture, the life of the unborn is disregarded by many because it threatens that radical autonomy of the mother. Abortionists know exactly what they are doing in taking the life of the unborn child, but these children are seen as collateral damage in the fight to protect radical autonomy.
I remember Alyssa Milano doing those Unicef commercials several years ago. It was all about the children. She had so much passion to get us to give what we could to save the children. I'll never get the chance to interview Alyssa Milano, but I would love to find out where the disconnect is. These same children she is so passionate about saving in the Unicef commercial were the same ones in the womb a day or two ago, when their lives were worthless, according to this line of thinking.
When I first saw the Unicef commercial, and noticed the passion in Alyssa Milano's voice, I thought she must be pro-life and Unicef must be a pro-life organization. It didn't take long to find the truth that Unicef is on record as being pro-abortion, and now we see that Alyssa Milano is also. Their way of fighting poverty is killing the poor.
Our belly buttons prove we were never promised radical autonomy, but we have some responsibility for others. In our human freedom we can choose the good of the other, which is the definition of love. This is where we have to get the hearts of the citizens of this country. What I can do for another is so much more important than any threats to my convenience, or plans. While we are working on conversion of hearts, we also have to make laws that protect the most vulnerable poor ones among us, the unborn.

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.