Monday, December 31, 2007

FREE Epiphany greeting card, just for the asking!

If you'd like to give friends and family something lovely this Epiphany Sunday, just ask. Use the "email Kelly" button on the left (please don't change the subject line) and I'll send you a printable Epiphany card in printable .PDF format.

It's graced with the antiphon from Epiphany Vespers and designed by my good friend Alden Thatcher. All you need to do is open the file with Acrobat Reader, print as many copies as you like (it's full color), fold it twice and give it to your loved ones.

It's my gift to you...thank you for being so good to me!

P.S. For those of you who got last year's card, this one is a different one.

Vigil Mass for Mary Mother of God...what a difference a week makes!

Last week I was a tad peeved at what passed for Christmas Vigil music at my favorite chapel in Boston.

This evening I attended the same chapel for the Vigil for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Wow!

The Gloria, Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were all chanted in Latin and everybody joined in. The songs were traditional carols without reference, for the most part, to hymnal numbers so nobody had to force themselves into wacky PC versions. What a difference!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holy Family Sunday Reading I didn't hear today...

I heard Colossians 3:12-17.

Which means I didn't hear Colossians 3:1-21...the scrapped verses of the Second Reading:

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives,
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything,
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children,
so they may not become discouraged.

Why on earth this important message was left out—particularly on Holy Family Sunday—is beyond me.

In any case, know that I've offered a prayer for your family today!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Patriots win! Wow.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

PC Christmas Carols and an interesting Vigil Mass

Full disclaimer:

The Vigil Mass I attended at my favorite chapel in Boston was glorious. I'm glad I went and wouldn't have chosen otherwise. That said:

The music was...something else.

I really didn't think I needed a hymnal to join in the Christmas songs before Mass. Wrong! The lyrics seem to have changed.

From "O Little Town of Bethlehem:" we did not sing "...and praises sing to God our King and peace to men on earth."

But rather "and praises sing to God our King and peace to all on earth."

(A similar, if I recall correctly, sillyism was repeated in "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.")

As for "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"...well...

"Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!"

"Pleased as one with one to dwell..." ("as one with one to dwell????)

And, during "Joy to the World" we did not proclaim "let men their song employ..." No, we sang something like "let all of us our songs employ" (which didn't do a whole lot for the rhythm of the song).

Still, this was just the prelude so I didn't really mind that much.

But what we did to the "Gloria"!

Someone got the notion of scoring the Gloria—which is a very cool part of the Mass of Christmas, not having heard or sung it for the last four Sundays for Pete's sake—to follow the melody of "Angels We Have Heard on High." The choir sang, for starters:

"Glory to-oo Go-ah-od, i-in the-uh highest"

Following which the congregation was expected to respond—and gamely enough, we did—

"Gloria in excelsis Deo" (a la the above-mentioned carol).

Well, this went on until the end. The problem was, the real "Gloria's" words didn't "fit" with the new score. Result? It abruptly ended with the words "You alone are the most high, Jesus Christ."

Feeling rather helpless but determined, I mumbled the words "with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen" for which I received a nod of thanks from my fellow pew sitters.

Again, the Mass was glorious. Because God was in charge! And He doesn't need, nor does He expect, perfection from us in our adoration.

But couldn't we at least try a little bit to remember that it is is our privilege to do our very best for Him, and not worry so much about glorifying ourselves?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Saint Stephen's final prayer: make it your own!

Today, after the joyous news of Our Savior's birth, we face the shocking martyrdom of one who believed in this same Savior.

As in other years, I've often wished the final prayer of Saint Stephen was included in today's First Reading (Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59).

Today we hear Stephen crying as he died: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

Which is a great prayer, of course.

But what we don't, for some reason, hear is the saint's Christ-like petition, made just before he died:

"Lord, do not hold this sin against them!"

A prayer that surely led Jesus to convert Saint Paul.

Paul—then Saul—fiercely denied that Jesus was the Messiah. He participated in Stephen's assassination. Yet Stephen, at the point of death prayed for him, prayed for all of those who doubted, who denied Christ.

Make Stephen's prayer your own.

"Do not hold this sin against them" can be a prayer for your enemies, for those who have hurt you terribly, or for even the guy who cut you off at the intersection.

But even more, it can be—and I can't emphasize this enough—a prayer for doubters, deniers, for those who dislike Jesus' Church.

Pray daily for your enemies.

Pray even harder for the enemies of Christ.

It's a Christmas present that lasts all year long, after all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Don't forget to kneel!!!

You may be going to a Vigil or Midnight Mass tomorrow. There is a chance that your priest may forget to do so, but don't you! During the Creed, please kneel at the words:

For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary , and became man.

God bless you!

P.S. If you're going to Mass on Christmas Day, the same applies!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ben Stein's movie: "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" looks good!

I've been half in love with Ben Stein since his Visine commercials. ("Wow.")

But now I'm becoming a true admirer since seeing the trailer of his documentary scheduled to be released this February.

It doesn't, as so many (I think, frightened, for reasons I can't explain) trash the theory of evolution. It does, however, probe into the reasons why scientists and others are trashed because they trash—or even question—Darwinism.

Check out the movie, especially the long trailer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Today's first reading (Jeremiah 23:5-8) and Gospel (Matthew 1: 18-25) both contain that incredible word "Behold!" The priest noted this in his homily today, for which I'm grateful.

"Behold" is different from words like "Look!" or "See!" or even "See here!" To behold something is to, as my dictionary puts it, "perceive through the use of the mental faculty."

I think of Pilate, who, in presenting the horribly scourged Jesus to the people, didn't merely say "Look at this man" but rather "Ecce homo!" Behold the man! Comprehend what he has already suffered!

I think of John the Baptist who, upon seeing Jesus, cried out "Ecce Angus Dei!" Behold the Lamb of God! Realize Who this Man is! Internalize the meaning of Whom you are witnessing!

Behold. It's a great word, especially when used to introduce Christ.

I'm grateful that, before Communion, the priest actually said while lifting up the Body of Christ:

"Behold the Lamb of God!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

John the Baptist: "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect another?"

Yesterday—Gaudete Sunday—we heard a Gospel passage that has haunted and fascinated me for a long time.

John is in prison, awaiting death. He sends his disciples to Jesus to ask the question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect another?” (Matthew 11: 2-3)

What motivated John's question?

A priest I know—a great friend—believes that John was suffering "the dark night of the soul" and in a way it makes sense. Here he is, in a dank and ugly prison, looking forward to nothing but death...and he wonders.

Other commentators' I've read suggest that John's question, sent via his disciples, was a clever and loving way to convince these disciples that Jesus was truly "the One Who is to come."

But Pope Saint Gregory the Great offers, I believe, a glorious explanation.

This question is quickly answered if we examine the time and order in which events took place. On the banks of the Jordan, John affirmed that Jesus was the Redeemer of the world; even so, after his imprisonment, he asked whether he was really the one who was to come. It was not that he doubted Jesus to be the Redeemer of the world, but he wanted to know whether he who had come in person into the world would also descend in person to the prison-house of the dwelling-place of the dead. Because he whom John had already announced to the world in his role as forerunner, he would also precede into the underworld by his death...It is as though he wanted to say clearly:

"Just as you have deigned to be born for man's sake, grant us to know whether you will also deign to die for him in such a way that, forerunner as I am of your birth so shall I also be of your death, and so that I may proclaim your coming to the dwelling places of the dead just as I have proclaimed your coming into the world."

I mean, I ask you: isn't this fantastically great???

John knew that Jesus was the Messiah. He foretold it! Now, nearing death himself, he wanted to make sure that this Redeemer was the same one who would die and free those already dead and waiting. And Jesus assured him that yes, he was that same Person...and to go ahead and joyfully announce to all those waiting that the time of their imprisonment was nearing an end.

What a party there must have been when John joined the hopeful and spread the great news...with the explicit permission of the Master Himself!

(Commentary courtesy of good folks at "The Daily Gospel" who, upon request, emails free the readings of the day.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Little kids and the Blessed Sacrament

From the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy's letter, released December 8:

I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist"


"Specific places are to be reserved for continuous Eucharistic adoration. To that end, parish priests, rectors, and chaplains are encouraged to introduce the practice of Eucharistic adoration in their communities, both personally and communally, in a collective effort to enhance prayer life. Let everyone be involved, beginning with children preparing for First Holy Communion."

This got me thinking. (Ouch! My head!)

I've always been touched when seeing a priest bless a small child accompanying his or her parent to the Blessed Sacrament.

But I wonder...would it be possible for little kids to learn, before they're old enough to receive Holy Communion, to somehow express the understanding that this is Jesus they are approaching?

I'm thinking maybe that instead of receiving a priest's blessing at Communion time (after all, the kid could be blessed by a priest at any time) the child could be taught to genuflect or kneel before the Sacred Presence while his parents receive Jesus in the Sacrament.

First, of course, the child must understand that this really is Jesus he's approaching. But I don't think this is an impossibility, even for, say, a four or five year old.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Catholic Radio International... an interesting site with some good programing. I especially appreciated the latest "The Heart of the Matter" show.

Do me a favor. Go to the main site when you get a chance and give me your opinion on things like content, of course, but also navigation, set up, convenience, stuff like that.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Golden Compass" review withdrawn

I'm fairly certain that this post wasn't the cause of the USCCB withdrawal of its favorable "Golden Compass" review.

In any case, the review has been withdrawn.

If you read the report of the withdrawn review, you can almost sense the snit, as in:

Since CNS is a distributor of media reviews of the OFB, it must respect the office's withdrawal of its review. Effective December 10, the review of "The Golden Compass" will not be available on the CNS Web site. It will not be included in subsequent listings of the USCCB film reviews and classifications.

A few questions come to mind:

1.) Why didn't the USCCB change the Office of Film and Broadcasting review instead of merely "withdrawing" it?

2.) Why, come to think of it, is there a need for the Office of Film and Broadcasting within the USCCB anyway?

3.) Which begs the question: is there really a need for the USCCB in the first place? (A friend who used to work for the organization once explained to me why the USCCB was absolutely necessary but I've forgotten his reasons and he doesn't work there anymore.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Me, the gunman, and God": Jeanne Assam

"I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse," she said. "I said, 'Holy Spirit, please be with me.' I did not run away and I didn't think to run away. My hands weren't even shaking."

Jeanne Assam, former cop and current volunteer security guard at New Life Church in Colorado who killed a man who killed at least three to five people last Sunday...before he could kill anyone else.

Read the story.

Click on and hear the video on the lower left side of the page (it starts with a commercial).

Pray for the dead, including—especially—the gunman.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"I am the Immaculate Conception"

The December 8 Alleluia verse: "Ave Maria, gratia plena Dominus tecum! Benedicta tu in mulieribus..."

I love Mary. I struggle with the notion of anyone conceived without sin, but in looking at newborns I can sorta imagine it. But the notion of anyone living her entire life without sin is...well, it gives me pause.

And, thank God, it gives me hope!

Because this same woman, Mother of God and Mother of us all, prays for us whenever we ask (and probably when we don't ask). How good the Good God is to have given us such a mother!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ladies, PLEASE! You're not priests, so please don't act stupid!

Stories like this make me want to weep, and also make me wonder.

I wonder why it is, for example, that Catholic ladies who throw up their religion just to be able to play at being men are always so darn—well, not old, exactly, but definitely topping the scale of the boomer age.

(My aunt is in her mid-80s. These ladies are in their late sixties. My aunt possesses a reasonable amount of common sense. These ladies are acting plain silly.)

And speaking of silly, why do "reporters" get everything so darned wrong?

Two St. Louis area women who consider themselves Catholic priests celebrated their first Mass on Saturday...

No they didn't. This was no more of a "Mass" than this Mac I'm looking at is a hamster.

Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie McGrath were ordained Nov. 11 by a bishop of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests group...

No they weren't. They were participating in a game that, as a child, I called "Let's Pretend."

Hudson and McGrath con-celebrated a late afternoon Mass on Saturday at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis.

No they didn't. They put on a play, perhaps.

McGrath said that the chapel holds 100 people but that 150 crammed inside.

Now, that's just plain idiocy. 50 extra people doesn't "cram" anything. And 150 people doesn't exactly constitute a throng.

“My guess is most were Catholics who felt alienated from their church,” McGrath said.

My guess is that most were Unitarians looking for still another path to consider on their own spiritual journeys...and most of all to "dialog" about it all, after the service. Over coffee. (Or green tea. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Green tea, I mean.)

The two women each gave a homily and offered communion to Catholics or anyone else in the church, said McGrath, 69.

They might've offered "communion" but it wasn't the Eucharist. Think "liturgical hors d'oeuvres" offered with an inclusive smile and you might be close.

Hudson, 67, said the women plan to hold a 4:30 p.m. Mass every Saturday at the church.

"Hold" a Mass? This is a giveaway. One "holds" a party. One doesn't "hold" a Mass.

“We were very well received,” Hudson said. “We feel good about it, and we plan to go on with it.”

Modesty as well as meekness. To say nothing of selflessness.

The killer quote:

“We don’t feel we have to defend ourselves,” Hudson said. “The archbishop has no authority over us because he did not ordain us.”

Neither, my ladies, did Christ. But then you already know that, don't you.

Please pray for these silly, silly women...and for those who encourage them in their folly.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena

Today begins a Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is celebrated on December 12. Thanks to John Mallon for Human Life International for providing this prayer.

Holy Mother Mary, Virgin of Guadalupe, during this novena we ask that you prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Make us docile to the workings of the Holy Spirit and faithful sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. As you transformed the pagan culture of Mexico nearly five centuries ago, so also transform our modern culture of death and make us witnesses to the culture of life. In this Advent season we promise our love, devotion and prayer for the victory of your Immaculate Heart.

Holy Mary of Guadalupe, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Amen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

A blessed Advent and New Year to you!

Check out my cool Advent Wreath...courtesy of the generous and ever creative Curt Jester.

(Pssst: Bloggers: grab one for your own site!)