Archive for June, 2011

June 25, 2011 – It’s The Eucharist, Stupid!

June 25, 2011

Well I’ve been beating my head against the wall the last couple of days thinking about what I could write about (no harm done personally, but the poor wall is in really sad shape).  So for guidance I turned to our liturgical calendar and was reminded that this weekend we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or what us “more mature” folks remember as the feast of Corpus Christi.  In my very limited research, I found that the feast’s existence can be credited to the Blessed Juliana of Liege, who began devotion to the Blessed Sacrament around the year 1230.  Largely because of her influence, in 1264 Pope Urban IV commanded that the feast be observed world wide.  This feast reminds us of 3 important principles of our faith: 1) That God became physically present to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man, 2) God continues to be present with those of us who are the church, and 3) the presence of God in the form of bread and wine is made available to us on the altar at Mass and preserved there for our worship and fulfillment.

The workshop I attended last week on the revisions to the Roman Missal talked a lot about change – changes in wording to many parts of the Mass, changes in points of emphasis, changes to the musical settings, etc.  I think it is safe to say that many of us are not big fans of change – there is always some sort of loss that comes with change and sacrifices that have to be made.  But as I said last week, the structure of the Mass itself is not changing.  There will still be two main parts of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word in which we proclaim those readings from Scripture which help to shape our faith, and of course the Liturgy of the Eucharist in which we obey the Lord’s command to remember Him through the blessing and sharing of His Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine.  For us Catholics, no matter where we attend church, no matter what form of the Mass is used, the Eucharist is the constant.  It’s the basis of our faith.  It’s what we desire during good times and bad times.  I’m reminded of the 1992 Presidential campaign as Bill Clinton’s campaign aide James Carville, when asked about the focus of their campaign, made the now famous reply “It’s the economy, stupid!”.  When I think about what the focus of my faith should be, when I have those periodic doubts about my faith and whether the Lord is really present with us, I just need to remind myself “Its the Eucharist, stupid!”, and everything else falls into place.

It’s easy not to think about or take for granted the role that the Eucharist plays in our lives.  When we as Catholics celebrate the reception of other sacraments – baptism, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, even anointing of the sick, we can celebrate them as part of the Mass.  When we are sick or hurting, we desire to be brought Holy Communion.  A couple of years ago when I was ill and was unable to attend Mass regularly, it was the reception of the Eucharist that I missed the most … it is what I hungered for.  I think I have mentioned before that a priest during a meeting I attended some years back wondered aloud if the Eucharist should be offered at every Mass or even on every Sunday – that perhaps people would hunger for it more if it were not offered as often.  At the time I thought the idea sounded intriguing, but the more I have thought about it over the years, the more I have come to reject the idea.  There would be a feeling of emptiness if there were no offering of the Eucharist at Sunday Mass.  It would be ignoring the invitation of Jesus to come to the table.  It helps us to recall what makes us Christians in the first place – an acknowledgement that Jesus lived among us, suffered and died for our salvation, and rose again to new life.

The Eucharist is a communal celebration which binds us together as Catholics.  However, as we know there are many issues, particularly social issues which can divide us as Catholics and Christians.  One of those is the issue of marriage.  The state of New York legislature last night narrowly passed a measure making the state the 6th in the nation to legalize “same-sex” marriages.  The Catholic Church is of course vehemently opposed to this, but despite the efforts and statements of its leaders, the measure still passed.  In its efforts to ban this legislation, many have accused the Catholic Church of disrespecting homosexuals and believing that they should not have the same basic rights of other human beings, which is simply not true.  The efforts of the church are not to deny rights to homosexuals, but to protect the definition of marriage that has existed since the beginning of time – the union of one man and one woman in a loving relationship with the desire to accept children.  The church is just as strongly opposed to polygamy because again, it is an attempt to re-define marriage into something that it is not.

The church is not in favor of denying basic rights to people of any orientation: everyone deserves their rightful visitation rights, death and insurance benefits, etc.  But marriage should not be used simply as a way to draw benefits – it should be a true union of one man and one woman in a loving relationship, just as God intended.

Well it’s going to be a tense few weeks for Cardinal fans as we try to deal with the loss of Albert Pujols, as well as other key players to injury.  Our saving grace so far is that the other teams in our division have not been playing well either. Hopefully we can keep our heads above water, and that my prayer vigil for Albert’s wrist will pay off.

Keep also in your prayers our farmers for favorable weather to harvest their wheat crop and finish other tasks.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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June 18, 2011 – A Change Will Do You Good

June 19, 2011

As I had said last week, my blog would be up a little later this week because I attended a workshop on the revisions to the Roman Missal earlier today and that is what I would talk about.  I debated on the way home in the car whether I would blog today at all because my brain would be fuzzy after a day of sitting through presentations and Mass, but then I thought well, my brain would probably be no less fuzzy tomorrow, or the next day, or next decade for that matter, so I might as well tackle it tonight.  There is no way I can go through everything we learned today, so I’ll just try to lay the basic groundwork.

As some people are aware, and some probably not, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 26/27) all Catholic parishes in the United States will begin using the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal for the Order of the Mass.  What does this mean?  Well in a practical sense, it means that some of the wording that is said by the priest and the congregation will change.  The wording that will be used now will be more truly translated from the Latin text that has existed for centuries.  In a spiritual sense, however, it is about more than just different wording – it is an opportunity to help us come to an understanding of what we are praying.  No matter how much you have heard about this, if anything, there will be questions that will arise, and the purpose of the workshop I attended today was to provide some answers to those questions.  So let me share some of those questions and answers with you:

Don’t the Bishops have anything better to do?  Actually, NO they do not.  The Eucharist is the lifeblood of the church and what our entire faith is centered upon.

What is wrong with what we are doing now?  Why “fix it if it ain’t broke?”  There is really nothing wrong with what we are doing now.  This is not a “correction” to what we are doing.  This is taking what we are doing to another level and finding deeper meaning in what we are doing.

Why do we need a new Mass?  This is not a “new” Mass.  That came with the Second Vatican Council.  The first edition of the Roman Missal came to us in 1969.  The second edition came in 1975 – it was largely the same but was considered to be a more complete edition.  This third edition was actually released in the year 2000 bu Pope John Paul II in order to commemorate the new millenium and also in order to add prayers and text for saints that had been canonized since the previous edition.

So why is now the time to implement these revisions?  It took this amount of time to translate the Latin text into the English version.  What we will be saying now is the English translation of the Latin text issued by John Paul II.  The text is not changing – the translation is.

What do you mean when you say the new translation will be more true to the Latin text?  Much of what we say at Mass now has close meaning to what the Latin says, but is not literally translated as such.  For example, now when the priest says “The Lord be with you” we respond “And also with you.”  With the new 3rd edition, when the priest says “The Lord be with you”, the congregation will respond “And with your Spirit.”  Why?  Because according to the Latin text the response is “Et cum spiritu tuo”, which when literally translated to English means “And with your Spirit.”  So this leads to the next question…

What is the advantage of changing the English translation so it is true to the Latin?  Isn’t that taking the church backwards?  Well there are several reasons for the change.  The new translation recovers much of the scriptural references of the Latin text of the Mass.  For example, in the new version, at the invitation to Holy Communion, the priest will say “Behold the Lamb of God…”.  This is to acknowledge what John the Baptist told his followers when Jesus appeared to them, that Jesus is actually the Lamb oof God and He is the One they should be following.  Also, the style of the prayers are more formal and reverent.  Also the new translation will provide a sense of unity among all of the major languages of the world – churches all over the world will be proclaiming in their own language, but translated from the same text.  There are many more reasons, but these are a few of the main ones.

OK, so we know that change is coming and there are reasons for it.  Are we supposed to know all of the new responses by the end of November?  No.  We realize that this is a process that will take some getting used to and will take some time.  On that First Sunday of Advent, if half the congregation still says “And also with you”, that’s OK.  It’s a part of change.  There will be easy to follow cards in the pews that will have all of the different responses, so we will have something to refer to.

What can I do between now and the end of November to prepare for the change?  We will be offering several things.  There will be inserts in upcoming bulletins.  We wll also probably offer some type of workshop/learning session in the fall.  Of course, there are many materials on the internet to refer to.  I recommend going to the USCCB website and going through the materials there.  The link is: www.usccb.org/romanmissal.  There are other materials as well, and in the near future I will be putting up more information on our website.

So final question: Is your head spinning yet?  Don’t worry.  As I said, it’s a process that we will be patient with.  I also see it as an opportunity to study and learn about why the Order of the Mass is structured in the way that it is.  Again, I could talk much more about this, and I’m sure I will at some point, but hopefully this gives you at least some basic information.

I can’t end without wishing all our Dads a Happy Father’s Day!  I hope you have a great time with your family, and I hope you don’t get the same ugly tie you got last year (lol).

I look forward to learning more about the Mass with you over the next few months.  Have a great week.  Pray for the Cardinals, and pray some more!  Peace.

June 10, 2011 – My Favorites

June 11, 2011

Oh the lazy, hazy days of summer.  Summer is typically a time around the parish when things are a tad slower, although as I was putting my to-do list together at our last Parish Council meeting, I was questioning the validity of this statement (LOL).  Anyway, no matter what the season, the Catholic Church continues its mission of spreading the message of Jesus.  Part of spreading this message now of course involves putting material on the internet.  There is no way that anyone could list out everything that is floating around in cyberspace, but I thought today I would tell you about a few of my “go to” sites – sites that I visit on a regular basis, and also tell you a little bit about what I like about them.  I’ll also put the link to them so you can easily click and go to visit them.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

Link: www.usccb.org

The USCCB website is a good place to go if you do not have a lot of time to surf and you just need one good general website for Catholic information.  This site includes the readings of the day and video reflections on the readings, which is great for people like me who are unable to attend Daily Mass.  It also includes news items, copies of the New American Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, announcements of Papal appointments, links to other important information such as the revisions to the Roman Missal, a website with resources for a happy and holy marriage, pro-life materials, and much more.  I find myself going to it quite often for some type of information.

Catholic News Service (CNS)

Link: www.catholicnews.com

If you are looking for one website to keep up with the current events involving the Catholic Church, this is the one I would direct you to.  It includes news as well as movie reviews and video reports from the Vatican.  Again, this is a site where if you do not have a lot of time to surf the net, this is one site that will give you a lot of basic information.

My Catholic

Link: www.mycatholic.com

I like this website because you can customize the homepage to fit your own interests.  You can include things such as news headlines, opinion pieces, daily reflections, educational resources, and many other things.  There is even a place to type in your own favorite website in and it will appear on your homepage.

Diocese of Belleville

Link: www.diobelle.org

One site you definitely want to bookmark is the one for the Diocese of Belleville (or the website for the diocese in which you reside).  The Diocese of Belleville site includes a listing of parishes with Mass times and also the websites for many of the parishes (although you may not want to look too close, you may like them better than mine – LOL).  There are also articles from the current Messenger, and a page of resources which I really like.  It includes links to other diocesan web pages, the monthly mailings from the Chancery, diocesan financial statements, child protection information, and the diocesan directory which is continually updated.  It includes all of the diocesan departments and personnel, listings of parishes and schools, and you can even find out how old your pastor is and when he was ordained (egads!).

These are all good sites to stay informed on what is going on with our church locally, nationally and worldwide.  There are also more and more Catholic blogs popping up (competition – ugh!).  These are a few that I like to visit regularly:

Whispers in the Loggia

Link: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com

This blog is written by Rocco Palmo, a 28 year old man from Philadelphia.  He does a great job of covering Catholic news and gossip.  If you do not have the time or patience to surf around the internet, you can go here and you will be well informed on the happenings in the national and worldwide Catholic Church.

The Gospel in the Digital Age

Link: http://blog.archny.org

This blog is written by Abp. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.  I have become an admirer of his because he is very knowledgeable on church issues and vigorously defends the church’s stances on social issues, yet he is a down-to-earth guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Recently in his interview for 60 Minutes, Morley Safer asked for his reaction to those who believe that he is a worthy candidate for Pope.  His answer: “Have you been talking to my mother again?”.  He also acknowledges the problems of the church and why people are leaving the faith.  His latest blog focuses on Pentecost and what the true definition of church is.

My Altar-Net View

Link: http://frjcrascher.wordpress.com

This blog is interesting because it is written by one of our Diocesan priests, Fr. Joe Rascher, who is Pastor of St. Stephen’s Parish in Caseyville.  Fr. Rascher is very well-versed in liturgy and is a very good homilist.  He shares some of his homily material in his blog along with personal stories.  They are good reads and they give a little insight into what the life of a Catholic priest is really like and what their priorities are.

And of course there is a little website that a large, quiet computer nerd from the Home of Popeye began about 4 years ago for his church of St. Mary’s, www.maryhoc.org, that has a few pictures, church bulletins, schedules, and a rambling blog.  Something you might want to check out sometime.

Also I need to mention 2 of my favorite sites that are not necessarily church related but that I love to log on to.  One is Facebook (www.facebook.com).  It took me a while to warm up to it because I thought it was mostly for teenagers and other geeks with too much time on their hands (on second thought, I wonder why I didn’t warm up to it sooner).  Anyway, once I started using it I found that it was a nice way to stay in touch with folks and to reunite with people I hadn’t heard from for a while.  Also many websites, including ours, have a Facebook tab, whick if you click on it and “Like” the page it will send you updates whenever they put a new item on their page.  On our Facebook page I put things such as photos, funeral announcements and other tidbits.

Finally, the website that is absolutely precious to me, the one which if I was on a desert island I would miss the most: Baseball Reference.  All the stats, box scores, playoff histories, etc. that any baseball fan can ask for.  An interesting link is to the career of Roger Wolff, who was a member of our parish and is buried in our cemetery.  He was a knuckleballer who won 20 games for Washington in 1945 before hurting his arm.  Here is the link:

www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wolffro01.shtml

Of course there are many more great sites out there, but these are some of my picks.  If you have a favorite, let me know and I will share it.

My blog next week will be put up a little later.  I will be attending a workshop on Saturday for the revisions to the Roman Missal and I plan to write about that.  So feel free to make other plans for your Saturday (LOL).  Have a great week.  Peace.

 

June 3, 2011 – The Lord Is Our Refuge

June 4, 2011

Well is it just me, or did we skip over spring?  A couple weeks ago we were worried about the vegetation getting nipped by the frost, and now we are sweating it out in record heat.  We certainly can’t say that this year has been uneventful as far as the weather.

I have continued this past week to follow the coverage from Joplin to see how things are progressing and how folks continue to deal with the tragedy.  In particular I have continued to follow the plight of St. Mary’s Parish, whose property was destroyed.  It is hard to imagine that in the midst of all of the destruction, all the lost homes and property, that people could find a place of refuge, a place where they know that God is present and a place they can find reassurance.  But that place was found in the other Catholic Church in Joplin – St. Peter’s.  There are photos from this past Sunday’s Mass with their Bishop and the pastors of the 2 churches.  Go to www.dioscg.org and click on the Facebook tab to access these photos.

The pictures showed that even though there were people present from 2 different churches, they gathered as one family of faith, and for at least a brief time, they could take a break from the tragic scene outside and take solace in the comfort that Jesus brings.  Some of the pictures still showed the emotion that understandably comes with such a tragic event, but many of the photos show people with smiles on their faces and enjoying the company of their fellow community members.  As part of his homily, the pastor of St. Peter’s Parish addressed the people from St. Mary’s and told them that they would have a home there as long as they wanted it or needed it.  In the midst of people wondering what direction their lives will take going forward, at least they know that they still have a place to worship and a family of faith to lean on.

Even in our little corner of the world, in our busy everyday lives it seems that it gets harder and harder to find a place of “refuge”, a place where we can leave the stresses of what is out here behind for at least a brief time and receive that reassurance that God is present with us and has our best interests in mind.  I think if we seek these places out we will find that there are more than we realize.

The most obvious “refuge” for a Catholic is in a church – whether it be for Mass or whatever occasion.  No matter what changes in the world outside, the routine of what goes on in church essentially stays the same.  Though the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, which we will begin using at the end of November, will bring changes in our responses and the music used during the Mass, the structure of the Mass remains the same.  There is something reassuring about knowing that even if we are in a different Catholic Church, that we are still able to fully participate in the Mass and still have that sense of being at “home”, as the people of St. Mary’s in Joplin are finding out now.

I have other places in which I personally find “refuge”.  The beauty of God’s creation provides a needed breather from the daily hustle and bustle.  I am fortunate that I live in the country, so I am able to step out my door and experience the solitude in the wonders of nature – the stars at night, the stillness of a summer evening, the changing of the leaves in the fall – a wonderous gift from God that I think many times we take for granted.

Believe it or not I find that there is an escape in working on the computer.  This might seem contradictory because isn’t technology part of what seems to keep us occupied and pulling our hair out?  But I find that there is a lot of good reading to be found on the internet, particularly Catholic blogs and news sites.  In a future blog I will point out some of these sites that I try to read – not just Catholic sites but other valuable material.

I also find that writing this blog takes me away from the “real” world for a brief time.  I enjoy it because it forces me to think about things I probably wouldn’t otherwise.  And if a few people enjoy reading it in the process, so much the better.

And of course there is my love of watching sports.  People may find it hard to believe that this does much to promote stress relief as I’m yelling at the latest boneheaded move by Tony LaRussa, or screaming at the latest dropped ball, or when I pray for continued strife for Cubs fans, but it really is an enjoyable escape from the grind of the real world.  I’m ashamed of myself at times because instead of going through the program guide to see what kind of informational programming is on, I’m searching for the next ballgame or Sportscenter.  What can I say – I gotta be me.

This seems like more of a “ramble” than a blog, but I think the point is that there is nothing wrong with pushing aside those concerns and stresses that occupy our everyday life, at least occassionally.  Jesus himself during His public ministry would take time to himself to pray to His Father.  And the gift of the church is a wonderful way to find that solitude, to find that needed “second home.”

Just a couple of other notes to share: The Today Show was at the Vatican this past week and there are a couple of interesting videos online from their visit,   including Abp. Timothy Dolan giving a tour of the Vatican and a look at a typical day for Pope Benedict XVI.  Here’s the link to view them:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/43250065#43250459

Finally, I hope you don’t mind if I mention an anniversary.  It was 4 years ago today when our website went online – and the world wide web has never been the same!  As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t sure where I was going with the website or what direction it would take, and I certainly didn’t know if anyone would use it.  Four years later, in some ways I still really don’t know where I’m going with the website or what direction it will take in the future, but I’m happy that some folks appear to be getting some use out of it.  Thank you for continuing to visit, and as always I’m open to any suggestions or ideas you have to make it even better.

Stay cool this week.  Think there’s another long summer ahead.  Peace.