Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Sign of Peace: Exercising the options

In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano last Saturday, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, noted some liturgical changes under consideration, including the transferring of the congregation's exchange of peace from its current place just prior to the Agnes Dei to the Offertory.

As the Cardinal rightfully, in my opinion, observes:

"Often, the significance of this gesture is not fully understood. It is thought that it is an occasion to give a high-five to friends. Rather, it is a way of saying to the person beside you that the peace of Christ, really present on the altar, is also with all men."

I've no doubt that you, as I, have observed some pretty bizarre manifestations of this practice, and certainly the Cardinal's concern is justified. But, while I'm no liturgist, it seems to me that there are options to transferring the ritual.

Option #1: Omit the practice altogether.

The exchange of Christ's peace between the celebrant and the congregation isn't optional. However, the exchange among congregants certainly isn't. I know of a number of priests who skip it entirely.

Option #2: Catechize!

Teach people what the ritual really means! And demonstrate a more proper, more reverent, and less "let's party" method of exchange.

Option #3: Combine Options 1 and 2.

Drop the congregational exchange for a period of time and explain why: plainly! In the meantime, through bulletin items, perhaps, or in the announcements before the final blessing, explain what the ritual means and spell out how it should be practiced. When folks get it, bring it back.

Just some thoughts. May the peace of Christ be with you.

Happy New Year!

And a blessed Advent to you. Many thanks to Jeff Miller for the Advent Wreath.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bishop Hermann: a privilege to die to end abortion

From the article:

“We also have to be aware that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and the powers and the spirits of this world of darkness, as Paul tells us in Ephesians.

“Therefore, behind Planned Parenthood, behind the abortion issue, is the evil one,” Bishop Hermann stated. “I often see human beings caught up in this as victims of the evil one who need my prayers and who need my compassion and who need my love. We don’t only want to save our children from destruction; we also want to save our adult brothers and sisters from eternal destruction.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Celebrants and adding "signatures" to Mass

Over the past couple years or so, I've noticed something some celebrants do at the preparation of the gifts. It didn't really bother me so much as puzzle me.

Generally, the priest first offers the bread. "Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation; through your goodness we have this bread to offer..."

He then prepares the wine, praying inaudibly at first, and then: "Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation; through your goodness we have this wine to offer..."

Then, after another inaudible prayer (which could be found in your missal), he washes his hands, praying (again, inaudibly) for his sins to be washed away.

I've noticed that some priests do it a bit differently.

The prayers are the same, but they prepare the wine first, placing the chalice on the altar, offer up the bread and the wine immediately afterward, and then perform the hand washing ritual.

No big deal, right?

Probably not, but as I said, it's puzzled me for some time and today I asked a priest about it. He didn't know the answer, never really came across it. But he added something I thought a tad odd:

"Some priests have their own `signature' when celebrating Mass."

Now this did intrigue me. In fact, it got me to mention other "different practices" I've seen. For example, the loud verbalizing of prayers to be said inaudibly. The neglecting of hand washing. The additions to the various Eucharistic prayers.

Again — and, to be fair, the priest was probably busy and not quite up for a liturgical discussion and anyway, I'm no liturgist — he repeated the odd comment about the "celebrant's signature." And assured me that so long as the celebrant didn't change the words of consecration, there wasn't really anything to worry about.

Actually, I wasn't worried...only on my way home I couldn't help wondering.

About why some priests don't reverence the altar. Nor kiss the altar upon entering the sanctuary. Nor kiss the Book of Gospels after proclaiming the Gospel. Or, why a priest would, instead of saying "the Mass is ended, go in peace," say "the Mass is never ended..." (a worthy thought, I suppose, but still) "...continue to live it."

I guess my question is:

Why is a "signature" needed?

We're not talking about haute couture or designer jeans here. We're talking about something so awesome—the Holy Sacrifice—that no "trademark" need be added. Why, then, do some priests feel the need to put their own "stamp" on what is already perfect?

Anybody? Am I missing something here?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cody's even better...Thank God!

Many pewsters have been praying for Cody Lehe and his family. Just the other day I noticed a comment on this post...remarkable! Cody's Aunt Denise read it and writes to us:

I forwarded that website to my brother and they remembered the boy and his family very well. In fact, they have run into them occasionally since they got to know them at the ICU. Cody is still improving, although very slowly. They have had him on a treadmill....unbelievable.....and he is able to walk, at a very slow pace (.3 mph), for 5 minutes. He really has beat the odds of everything the doctors told them he would ever be able to do!!! He still has physical therapy 3 days a week and has in-home speech therapy, school work, etc. 2 days a week. They are hopeful, and have made plans, for a family vacation next Spring!!! That would just be amazing!! It would be a very well-deserved break for all of them. He just passed the two year anniversary of the accident, so it has been a very long time since they've been able to get away. He has a great spirit and really keeps everyone on their toes with his sense of humor and "shock" appeal!!

Thanks for your continued prayers for Cody and his family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Penny (not so) wise in Attleboro, MA

A 74-year-old blind woman has been told a lien will be put on her South Attleboro home if she doesn't come up with a penny she owes on an outstanding utility bill.

You read that right. One cent.

Eileen Wilbur, of Glenn Street, said she discovered the notice of the potential lien after her daughter, Rose Brederson, came over to read her mail.

I heard that after this story broke today, folks driving by Attleboro's City Hall tossed pennies at it.

The city sent Wilbur a letter dated Nov. 10 stating that if the 1 cent balance is not paid by Dec. 10, the city will assess a lien of up to $48 on Wilbur's next property tax bill.

"They wasted taxpayer money on the letter," Wilbur said, noting the 42-cent charge for a stamp.

City Collector Debora Marcoccio said the bill was sent out along with more than 2,000 others as the city tries to recoup outstanding balances before resorting to putting liens on property.

Mrs. Wilbur, by the way, has lived in her home for over 50 years.

And on "fiscal responsibility:"

"It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have staff weed through the bills and pull out any below a certain amount," Marcoccio said. "

Only in Massachusetts. Sheesh!

Source: The Sun Chronicle

Hospital Refuses to Remove Eluana Englaro's Feeding Tube After Court Ruling

The hospital where Eluana Englaro had received medical care and treatment before an Italian court ruled that her father could take her life refuses to pull her feeding tube. No doctor and none of the staff at the hospital in Lecco have agreed to kill the woman who is considered Italy's version of Terri Schiavo.
...the Italian nuns at the Blessed Luigi Talamoni clinic who are caring for her refuse to comply with the court ruling.
Vladimiro Kosic, head of health for Friuli-Venezia Giulia, told the Times, "Our hospitals are places of life, not death."

Cio laudato Gesu Cristo!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Open Letter to President-Elect Obama

The good folks at Vox Nova put together this letter. You might consider stopping by and adding your name to the ever-growing signatories list.

November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.
If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.


(a bunch o' names)

Kelly Clark

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keep praying this month and always for the holy souls in purgatory

If only the dead could speak from their graves, they would cry out and say: "All these monuments, and this worldly pageantry only crush us. They only satisfy the vanity of the living, but in no way alleviate our sufferings in purgatory." They would ask:

  • Give us your feet by going to hear Mass for us.
  • Give us your eyes by watching for opportunities to perform good deeds for us.
  • Give us your hands by giving alms or an offering for a Mass.
  • Give us your lips by praying for us.
  • Give us your tongue by encouraging others to be charitable to us.
  • Give us your memory by remembering us in your devotions.
  • Give us your body by offering up to God all its labors, fatigues, and penances for us
From Thirty-Day Devotions for the Holy Souls by Susan Tassone

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When playing the race card REALLY is stupid...and simply not right

I understand why—I think—Andrew Sullivan was disappointed when Californians voted for Proposition 8 (a simple act that iterates the obvious: the definition of marriage as a union between two people of the opposite gender).

But what I don't get is why he, even in his bitterness, would stoop to insult American people of color.

Every ethnic group supported marriage equality, [sic] except African-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly against extending to gay people the civil rights once denied them: a staggering 69 - 31 percent African-American margin against marriage equality. [My emphasis.]


By "marriage equality," I understand that Sullivan means same-sex "marriage." Got it. But what on earth is he talking about when he claims that black Americans voted against "civil rights once denied to them"?

I don't know where Mr. Sullivan lives, but where I live, nobody ever denied a homosexual man or woman the right to vote, the right to read, the right to use the same bathroom as Caucasians, the right to sit wherever he or she wanted to on a bus...the list goes on.

Jeff Jacoby nails it far better than I can.

I suggest Mr. Sullivan take a deep breath and apologize for his rather wretched racist comments.

And may I further suggest that people who keep insisting that a square is actually a circle quit trying to use black Americans to further their peculiar ideologies?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fight FOCA

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ah yes..."tolerance"

About 200 gays and lesbians upset over the voter- approved ban on gay marriage marched from East Los Angeles to the downtown Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Sunday.

Other protests occurred in Orange County at the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and a Mormon church in Laguna Niguel.

Here's the money quote:

'What a lot of religious people of all faiths did to us on last Tuesday was just wrong and it’s unfair,' says one protestor.

Interpretation: "Religious people are okay so long as they agree with us. If not, they are just wrong."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"Maybe the world won't hate America so much!: Huh?

A well-traveled, well-meaning, extremely respected and devout Catholic physician I know tried, valiantly perhaps, but certainly sincerely, to offer a "bright side" (his words) on the election of Senator Barack Hussein Obama to the office of United States President to me yesterday.

"Maybe at least," he ventured, "this will curb the out-of-control hatred the world has for the United States."

Now this man has spent the many, many years of his professional life traveling doggedly throughout the world, treating the poorest of the poor, generally without worldly compensation. He has eschewed creature-comforts in order to bring relief to those to whom the very term "creature comforts" has no meaning. And he is outspoken in his defense of the unborn. That he knows far more about international affairs than I should go without saying.

And yet my response to him was, nevertheless: "huh?"

Is it that important—or important at all?—that the world "likes us?" What the world "thinks of us?"

Or is our salvation dependent on what God thinks of us?

Personally, I can't help but think that maybe, if this nation holds human life in such little value that we would elect folks who would prefer to end it at or near birth rather than "punish" the rest of us with it...then maybe we don't deserve any respect at all.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

--Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Washington DC, 1994

Father Andrew Greeley: please pray

ROSEMONT -- The Rev. Andrew Greeley, the best-selling novelist and newspaper columnist, fractured his skull in a fall Friday. He is in “critical” condition at a suburban hospital, his family and friends report.

How the outspoken priest was hurt is still being pieced together by his family, but hospital workers told them Greeley, 80, snagged his jacket in taxicab door at about 4 p.m. Friday and fell, hitting his head.

“Right now he’s critical but stable, very stable,” said his niece, Laura Durkin. “Doctors are hopeful and pleased with his progress from last night to today. They’re pleased with his current condition.”

Greeley, a Chicago-born Catholic priest, has written more than 50 novels, including best sellers that offer tales of international intrigue. His Sun-Times columns tackle the issues of the day, including his unique take on religion and politics.

He was lecturing Friday at a convention of the Religious Education Association, at a hotel near O’Hare Airport, Durkin said.

In his fall, Greeley fractured his skull and the left orbital bone near his eye, his friend and attorney Terry Goggin said.

He has bleeding on the brain, and doctors installed a monitor in his skull to gauge pressure on his brain, Goggin said. C-T scans are also being used to monitor his injuries.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Orare et laborare...and some really good news!

It may seem like a bleak day and that's probably because it is. And while I appreciate the attempts at optimism offered by folks like Jeff Jacoby and Mark Shea, I'm not one to go rah-rah-rah, simply because this country elected a president whose skin color happens to be darker than mine.

On the other hand, there is good news to share!


John 3:16!


In a letter to Mark Shea, David Bereit, Director of 40 Days for Life, writes:

On a day when many are stressed about elections, I just heard from one of our 40 Days for Life local campaign leaders who is bouncing off the walls with the exciting news that the abortion facility that was the focus of their campaign over these last 40 days is CLOSING!!

The "Space Available" real estate sign was put in front of the building on Thursday -- day 37 of the campaign. Yesterday, the local leader confirmed with the real estate company that the abortionist is shutting the business down for good.

We will have more details, including the location, as soon as the facility is closed -- which should happen very soon. But I knew you'd want to know that your prayers have produced an amazing result!

And another INCREDIBLE victory: as reports continue to roll in from around the country about the impact of the 40 Days for Life campaign that just ended, the number of confirmed lives saved during the 40 days is...


Prayer and work. Let's keep it up...and let's continue to praise God!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem: exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon them.

To you we owe a hymn of praise, O God, in Sion; to you must vows be fulfilled in Jerusalem: hear my prayer, to you all flesh must come.

Please know, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that I have prayed for your deceased loved ones, and look forward to continuing to do so.

May God bless you, and deliver the souls of all the faithful departed. Amen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

You've been good...take an extra hour off!

If you are reading this, you are entitled to one extra hour of sleep tonight. Kindly turn your clocks back one hour. This public service is brought to you by the lady in the pew.

I'm Kelly Clark...and I approve this message.