Friday, August 27, 2010

Madonna di San Biagio

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

First “Pastoral” Decision

Over on her excellent blog “Adoro” tells of her First Formal Act as a Theologian and it reminded me of the very first decision I was asked to make as a new Pastor.

I had just been named to my first assignment as a pastor of a parish.  The current pastor had announced his retirement, and the diocesan placement board and Bishop had selected me as his replacement.  The announcements had been made, and I was on countdown to moving.

The Deacon at the parish where I was to be the new pastor wrote me a long letter giving me an overview of the pastoral and administrative shape of the parish.  He did this at the urging of the current pastor who wanted to get me up to speed as quickly as possible and to help with a smooth transition since I was a first-time pastor and all.

At the end of the letter, the Deacon, at the recommendation of the current pastor, asked for my very necessary decision regarding the use of parish funds.

Would I like them to purchase the longer lasting, but more expensive urinal deodorant cakes for the Men’s bathroom, or the cheaper ones?

Yep, that was it.  Welcome to being a pastor in a parish.

Some might say that my pastoral decisions have been at the same level ever since.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The New Missal is Here! The New Missal is Here!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy that I learned today that the Vatican has approved the English Translation for the United States of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.  The full text of the press release can be found at the U.S. Bishops’ website by clicking here.

The date for the implementation of the new MIssal is set for the first Sunday of Advent, 2011, just about a year and a half away.  This gives us plenty of time to do a full and proper education for the parish on the new Missal, which has some changes in some of the English texts and responses we’ve used for so many years.

On occasion, the Church updates the texts for the Mass, and issues them in the (still) universal language of the Church, which is Latin.  Since the Novus Ordo Mass was implemented after Vatican II, there have been three editions of the Missal. 

Each major language group then has to translate the texts to the vernacular language, and submit those translations back to Rome for approval.  This is done so that the vernacular translations can be as close as possible to the meaning and if possible the poetry of the Latin texts.

The English version we have been using was approved for ‘temporary’ use for the first edition of the Missal, all the way back in the 1970’s.  The translations were sometimes in more of a paraphrase style, rather than including as much of the sacred Theology and beautiful poetry of the Latin prayers.  Several years ago, the Vatican informed the English translation committee that they needed to work very hard and get this newest edition (third edition) of the Mass translated quickly and properly.

Their hard work has finally been approved for use, and now we start the process of bringing this new, beautiful, theological, and poetical translation to our people.

I will be posting more on the new translation, on our parish efforts to learn the new translation, and how this moves us to a greater and deeper love and relationship with our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(I am almost giddy with excitement!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Evangelization, part 2

So today I’m with my Dad and we’re touring Rome.  I’m really enjoying being here again, and I’m glad to be with my Dad.  Being one of seven children, I think this might be the longest time I’ve ever had alone with him.  We’re seeing everything and loving every minute.

We’re at the Colosseum, and we’re with a tour group.  This is the same group I took a tour with five years ago.  Back then, the tour guide made a comment when we saw a large cross erected inside the Colosseum.  He said that it was there remembering the Christians who were killed there.  But then he adds, “There is no historical evidence that ANY Christians were killed in the Colosseum.  It is just not true.”

WHAT?  WHAT??  WHAT!!??  The rest of the tour is OK, but he still put in that bit about Christians.  Hmm, methinks he doth protest too much.

So now today we’re on the tour, different guide, and I’m waiting for the line.  It isn’t there.  Good.  In fact he talks about Christians being killed there, and why, and how.  OK, this is going fine.  Then he starts talking about WHY Christianity was hated.  He gets it MOSTLY right, so no problem there, but then he says that once Roman Society became Christianized, the empire fell.  Yep, the Roman Empire collapsed because THEY ALL BECAME CHRISTIAN.  Christianity caused the collapse of the Roman Empire.  Christians ruined the social, political and economic foundations of the empire.  His words, not mine.

Now can you see why I’m just a little suspicious of all the private tour guides at the Vatican?  I really think we’ve got to do something ourselves, along the lines of my other post.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why you can’t comment on my posts.

I’ve always been chided for not allowing comments on my posts.  I used to disallow comments because I didn’t have the time to read them, comment back, and properly ‘curate’ them.

Now I do it because my blog, and some others, were targeted by some hackers, using the comments to place links to websites that exploited flaws in most computers and did bad things to your computer.  The black-hat hackers (there is a difference that I’ll explain someday) would make a relatively mild comment and then put in a link.  I started getting suspicious because the same ones started commenting on everything, and my blog doesn’t get enough traffic for that kind of sudden popularity.

So I got out an old computer I use for testing purposes, installed some security sniffing software and clicked those links.  The computer suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree, but not with good presents.  The software started telling me all kind of bad things were being attempted.  So I modified the comment system to block the bad people.  They just surfaced again with new names, and if I don’t have time to moderate the posts, then I don’t have time to play games with black-hats.

Long story, still no commenting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A New Evangelization?

Last year some brother priests and I were talking about all the folks, throughout Europe, who visit Cathedrals and parishes as a tourist attraction on summer vacation.  For that matter, it happens in the good ol’ U. S. of A. too.

It got us to thinking, especially regarding visitors to the Vatican.  Might we use those visits as a method of evangelization?  Especially given the dreadful numbers coming out of Europe regarding unchurched people?

It might be as simple as a standard brochure, welcoming them in their visit to a Catholic church.  We might give some general things to look for when visiting a church, and a quick teaching on some of our Sacraments and Sacramentals.   What is that gold/silver box up front with the candle near it?  What do those racks of burning candles mean?  All this sacred and precious art, why should it be kept in this stuffy building?  Some proper methods to explore a church as a tourist, etc.  Of course, the local Mass times.  That’s the simple method.

Here’s one for the Vatican.  How about a corps of young people, who volunteer from all over the world, to lead visitors around St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica?  Let people see a vibrant and alive church, with enthusiastic young people who know a thing or two about their faith and Church history?  Of course, there would be training sessions.  The tours could be in several different languages, by the young people, and used as a way of spreading the gospel to folks who are, after all, visiting a sacred place.

Members to this corps would be selected by bishops from all over the world from among their youth, and the expenses for their time at the Vatican would be paid for by the local diocese.  It would be an honor to serve as a Vatican Evangelist for some length of time.  Of course these same young people would receive not just training for their “jobs” but a close look at the splendors of our faith, and be sent home to bring that back to local towns and parishes.

I’m sure I’m missing a thousand details, and I’m sure there are lots of issues to be solved.  But right now I’m seeing hundreds of folks walking into our churches each day, and not a single thing is being said or done about inviting them to know more about Christ and His Church. 

You see tour groups being led around by private companies, but who knows what they are being told?

Right now at the Vatican, you’re checked with a metal detector, told to cover up bare arms and legs, and left to wander around on your own.  You can rent a recording that guides you around the Basilica, but that seems to be about it.

Just seems like a good opportunity to me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This wasn’t MY Mass (or was it?)

This morning I attended Mass at the local parish church. 

  • I wasn’t greeted at the door, welcomed, given a worship aid or shown to a seat.
  • There was no music.
  • The pews were oddly arranged and MOST uncomfortable (not a bit of padding to be found).
  • At the time to start Mass, an elderly gentleman rang a bell and everyone stood.
  • The priest was not blessed with an orator’s voice, it was more of a monotone drone.
  • The sound system was not very good.
  • The lighting system was not very good. 
  • People were streaming in (and out) all during Mass.
  • Did I mention no music?
  • I think the older man next to me fell asleep once or twice.
  • The priest prepared the altar and went right into the Eucharistic Prayer while the collection was still being taken.  The collection finished about halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer.
  • No one held my hand or attempted to hold my hand during the Lord’s Prayer.
  • At Communion time, those who wanted to receive just kind of sauntered up to the front, there were no organized lines and no ushers.
  • When Mass ended, the priest went back into the Sacristy.
  • No one said anything to me as I left.
  • No coffee and doughnuts were offered after Mass.
  • And lastly – THE MASS (including the readings and homily) WAS IN A LANGUAGE I DID NOT UNDERSTAND!

All the things that I’ve been told that are so essential to the “proper” celebration of Mass were missing – there was no “community” feeling and no encouragement from the priest to make us more of a “community.”

So did I really attend Mass?

Some would say that I didn’t really attend a “good” Mass, or I couldn’t participate in the Mass, or I should stay home or shop around for a “good” parish that has that community feeling.

One little detail – I’m in Italy right now, and the Mass was in Italian at the local parish church – which happened to be built in the 1400’s.

I have to tell you, I did attend Mass.  I gathered as the Church tells me I must (CCC 2180).  I participated – by interiorly lifting my heart and mind to the Lord, and offering the responses as best I could.  I received Holy Communion with great joy.  I offered thanks to God for so great a gift as His Son given freely to the world and to me a sinner.

I wasn’t entertained, I wasn’t crooned to, I wasn’t fawned over.  I attended the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, I received our Savior through the Word of God, and through His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion.  And I look forward to next Sunday’s Mass, at the same place, at the same time.  It is, after all, the “source and summit” of my life, even when I’m not entertained.