Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day. And Father Dennis Brown, OMV

If I don't miss my guess—and, eschewing false modesty, I generally don't—my thought is that my good friend, Father Dennis Brown, OMV, is not only shivering with excitement at the November 1 Feast...he's actually begun to celebrate it.

Father Dennis is one of those very blessed people who understand—who know within his very heart and gut—that the saints are, besides Jesus and Mary, our very best friends.

When he served in Boston at Saint Francis Chapel, the "optional memorial" of any given saint—any of them—was not an option at all.

Father Dennis, I do believe, would pretty much take it as a personal affront if Saint-Whoever-Heard-of-This-Guy wasn't honored at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It's just the way he is. He not only loves all saints, but considers them personal friends  of his.

And so they are. And of yours and of mine as well.

Father Dennis' resume includes, I believe, a stint at a participant in the Congregation for Cause of Saints. What does this mean to me personally?

It made his a great confessor. Stern? No doubt about it. This man never refuses to call a sin...well, a sin.

But he also was and no doubt still is, God's instrument of hope. "Saints are sinners who kept trying" is a favorite admonition of his. As is, "Nunc Coepi" ("Now I begin!")...a favorite saying of his order's founder, Venerable Brunu Lanteri.

And so, as we celebrate all the saints, it's my great privilege to ask Our Lord to bless this good priest...a friend who not only introduced to me saints I'd never heard of, but more important? To rely on our "great cloud of witnesses" to pray for me...not just when I'm in a jam, but always.

Happy All Saints Day, Father Dennis! May you one day be a part of these great folks. (And don't worry...if you screw up? Nunc Coepi! ;-)

Father Dennis Brown, O.M.V., lives and works in the diocese of Lansing and Ann Arbor, Michigan. He regularly hosts retreats focusing on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and also facilitates the formation of clergy and laity, especially in the discernment of the spirits.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Roman Missal: Concluding Rites

The word “Mass” comes from the Latin word MISSA (meaning sent or dismissed), a word that is spoken by the deacon or priest as the assembly is dismissed: “Ite! Missa est!” (“Go! You are dismissed!”)

The importance of this final act of the Mass cannot be overlooked. It's not a “dismissal” as we might normally think of that word: “Okay, you may go now.” Nor is it a punitive act as when one is “dismissed” (i.e., "You're fired!) No, this dismissal is very different.

In a real sense, the new Roman Missal changes the tone of the concluding rite. There is an urgency in the words. It is less “you may go now” and more “you MUST go now to proclaim what God has done for us here!” In slang, it might be “Go! Scram! What are you still standing here for? Go and take what God has given us here, and take it out to your workplaces, to your neighborhoods, to your families, your friends, EVERYBODY!”

There are four options for the deacon or priest to use. One is the simple “Go in peace.” We're familiar with that. There is also “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Can you hear how the “Go forth” conveys much of the sense of being sent?

This sense is also obvious in the two remaining options, included at the command of Pope Benedict XVI. The first of these is “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” Say that out load and listen to yourself! It can't be more explicit! We are sent out on mission—to announce the Gospel, to be Christ’s witnesses, to work for the coming kingdom!

The remaining option for the dismissal is just as beautiful: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Through what God has just done for us, and through what God has done to us in this Eucharist, go, and by our lives—by how we live and act and treat others and make decisions—by all of that, give glory to the Lord!

The Pew Lady's Conclusion 

[thank goodness, Kelly...thought you'd never shut up!]

Hey, never mind that. Ahem:

Some people thrive on change…lots of people hate it. Personally? I'm not all that into change myself. But whether you love change or avoid’s always a challenge.

By the grace of God, we’re up for it. Oh, sure, we’ll probably stumble a bit at the beginning. But, I’m confident that sooner, rather than later, we’ll find that these new words we’ll use at Mass will help us to elevate what is most important in our lives: our holiness.

May God bless you.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Roman Missal: The Liturgy of the Eucharist

One significant change in the new Roman Missal is that the familiar acclamation “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again” will no longer be used as an acclamation to the Mystery of Faith. The reason for this is that the three options given for the acclamation are all addressed to the Lord (e.g., “We proclaim your Death, O Lord…”). They all note our relationship to Christ’s Paschal Mystery (“When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord…”). The acclamation “Christ has died…” does not follow this form; so it was not included in the options. 

And you know, it makes sense. Yes, I understand that this is a favorite proclamation, but do remember that it's a proclamation, not an acclamation! Why on earth, when the Lord Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is right here, right now, live and in Person, is present—really present!—right here with us, would we speak about Him as if He'd left the room?
It's a beautiful statement of our faith, and I do urge you to say it right out loud or in your hearts while you're walking down the street, driving, whenever...but not when Jesus is right here with you. Talk to Him...not about Him.

Also, instead of directing us to give the acclamation (“Let us proclaim…”), the priest will simply announce, “The Mystery of Faith,” acknowledging the reality that our acclamation is something that wells up, without needing to be asked for.

The last noticeable change in the Liturgy of the Eucharist will be the invitation and response to Holy Communion. The priest will say, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” There are two key allusions to scripture here: John the Baptist identifying Jesus as the Lamb (John 1:29) and the angel’s declaration in Revelation (19:9) regarding those “called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” Our response, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed,” echoes the words of the Centurion, who asked Jesus to heal his servant (Luke 7:6-7, Matthew 8:5-13). As we are presented with the very Body and Blood of Christ, we are called to the same, deep level of faith as the Centurion.

(By the way, do visit here, click on the word "here" in the lower right hand of the page, and download the new responses to the Mass.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Roman Missal: Gloria and Credo

The Gloria

Our parish has been, for the past few Sundays, practicing that great song of praise. I hope yours has been, too. Since we won’t be using it during Advent, the bishops gave us permission to do so. The first part of the Gloria sounds slightly different: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” This is almost a direct quote from Luke’s Gospel as he describes the angels rejoicing at the birth of Christ. And by the way, it’s a great example of how the enhancements to the Mass echo what we find in scripture.

The Creed

The first change that we encounter in the Nicene Creed is the changing of We to I—from the plural to the singular. This is not to diminish our sense of community but is simply a more accurate translation of the word Credo –“ I believe.” The reciting of the Creed is a communal act;, however, each individual in the assembly is called upon to profess his or her own faith just as he or she did in Baptism. Our individual profession is then joined together with the profession of the whole assembly.

Next, the words “of all that is seen and unseen” will become “of all things visible and invisible.” There is a difference between something that is unseen and something that is invisible. Something may be unseen for a number of reasons, including an obstacle in our line of vision. Something invisible, however, is clearly unable to be seen with the naked eye, for example, the saints and angels who occupy a place in our worship. They are not just unseen but invisible.

The second part of the Creed, which deals with our beliefs in Jesus Christ, has a number of changes in the new Roman Missal. Here are just three:

* “consubstantial with the Father” –  this replaces the phrase “one in being” in describing the relationship between the Father and the Son. The early Church labored intensely to find the correct words to define Jesus’ relationship with the Father. Consubstantial, while an unusual word in English, means literally “having the same substance,” which is more technically accurate than “one in being.” Sure, it’s an unusual word, but then again it is describing someone and something unusual and unique: Jesus Christ and his relationship with the Father.

And I love this one! Every pro-lifer should!

* “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary” – here, the word incarnate replaces  born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception: the Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb.

Finally, instead of saying “we look for the resurrection” we’ll say “I look FORWARD to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Amen! This expresses not only our EAGERNESS for the resurrection but our confidence that it will happen!

(Many thanks to Loyola Press and Mystical Bod, Mystical Voice for help on this!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Roman Missal: The Penitential Act

It’s an “act,” rather than a “rite.” Calling it an “act” more strongly conveys the reality of both our sins and our true sorrow for them. One option for the act is the “Confiteor”—I confess to almighty God…). In the new translation, we will admit that we have GREATLY sinned. And striking our breasts, you and I will confess that we have sinned “though my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” As you practice the enhanced penitential act, and when we actually begin to use it, please God may the words we say add to a more humble disposition as we prepare to celebrate the Mass.

For a downloadable PDF file of all the responses to the Mass, do go here and, in the lower right corner, click on the word "here."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The New Roman Missal: Starting with the Greeting

On the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, the opening of our new liturgical year, look forward to some changes in the words, music, and gestures of the glorious miracle we know as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It’s called the New Roman Missal, and it involves the folks in the pews as it does our priests and deacons.

First, let’s dispense with what the New Roman Missal is NOT:

It’s NOT “something coming to us out of the blue.” This particular version has, in reality, been a part of a prayerful process for some 40 years!

It’s NOT “an attempt to reverse Vatican II.”

It’s NOT—and I’ve actually heard this—a “cultural step backward for English speaking people.”

In fact, these changes—and I believe the correct term is “enhancements”—represent a giant leap forward in our reverent and loving worship of Almighty God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let’s start with the greeting.

The Mass isn’t a chance encounter between friends, and so the greeting is no ordinary “Hiya, how are ya, anyway”/ “fine thanks, and you” sort of thing. Rather, it a ritual greeting and response. When the priest greets us with the words “The Lord be with you” we will respond “And with your spirit.” We’re not saying “hi” to the priest, and he’s not saying “hi” to us. We’re both going beyond that by extending a solemn wish to someone about to undertake a profound undertaking. This exchange takes place at several critical moments during the Mass: as we are about to hear the Gospel proclaimed; as we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer; as we are about to be dismissed. Remember, the name “spirit” refers not to the priest or deacon’s soul, but to the spirit he received through the laying on of hands at his ordination.

This is going to be great! Next, God willing, the Penitential Act. (Note: I said "Act," not "rite." Stay tuned! And do try to find out all you can about this enhanced English translation...and by the way, watch out for "progressives" who turn out to be averse to change! ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 16 homily by Deacon Greg Kandra...worth the read!

For the last several days, we’ve been hearing a lot about the demonstrations being staged in lower Manhattan and around the country: Occupy (Fill in the Blank) – Occupy Wall Street, Los Angeles, Washington…thousands of people taking to the streets to express their frustration over the economy and anger at Wall Street. It remains to be seen how far the protests will go, or how long they’ll last. It’s unclear if they’ll even have any impact.

But the protests have reminded me of another demonstration — one that was very different from what we’re seeing on Evening News.

It happened 50 years ago last weekend, October 7th 1961, in the Polo Field at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. By one estimate, the crowd that day numbered 550,000 people. And like the people gathered on Wall Street these days, they were doing something countercultural, even radical, by demonstrating something almost unthinkable today.


They were there to pray.

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Dear Lord, did I answer this at all correctly? I trust in You!

A reader wrote:

Hey Kelly, I'm having a hard time forgiving our roman catholic church for the continued and long history of child abuse. I do go to church lately, but I'm always reminded of the abuse of so many, and the protecting and transferring of these priest by Rome! I don't like to give money to my church any more, because of all the church funds that are used for law suits! How do you rectify all this and still believe out lord Jesus is still in charge of our church?

My answer:

Thank you for your note.

I spent much of the day wracking my head, trying to think of something Profound and Irrefutable to expound upon that would totally blow you away and convince you that being a Catholic is the Best Thing There Could Be...and came up empty.

As it happened, I needn't have busted what I laughingly call my brain. ;-)

First, I realized that today is the Memorial of Saint Faustina -- the little nun who promoted the endlessness of God's Divine Mercy.

Before Mass, I went to Confession...and was, once again, forgiven.

At Mass today, I heard in the first reading, the story of Jonah, God's mercy on Nineveh, and Jonah's being ticked off about it.

The Gospel centered on the Lord's Prayer..."forgive us, as we forgive those who sin against us."

During the homily, the priest mentioned that he'd programmed his phone to remind him every day at 3:00 PM -- the hour of Christ's death -- to pray the prayer Saint Faustina promoted: "Jesus, I trust in you."

I received Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

After Mass, I stayed for awhile and God gave me a beautiful gift...a treat for my eyes. I saw a lady walk slowly toward the tabernacle and, upon reaching it, sink to her knees in adoration and love.

I know that Jesus is still in charge of His Church because He left us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament...and because He told us He'd be with us, even until the end of time.

And I trust Him to do so.

I do hope this is somehow helpful, [person who wrote me] were in my prayers today and I look forward to praying for you some more. I ask for yours, whenever you get the chance.

Thank you,


P.S. Money? My offerings aren't all that stupendous either, mostly because I'm broke half the time ;-)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Can we can the "first names" of priests and religious? Please?

Okay, I realize many Protestants hop on the words "call no man Father" yada yada yada. This argument is handled pretty much in this essay.

Only don't go there yet. Or if you do, please come back, especially if you're a Catholic because I'm talking to YOU.

Would you PLEASE stop addressing and/or talking about priests and religious by their first names?

Recounting of a recent fellow parishioner about something or other in the parish:

She: "And so Kevin said blah blah blah and Carlos answered blah blah blah and then Bob said blah blah blah to which Tanya said blah blah blah, and then Jonathan said blah blah blah, only then Joe said blah blah blah but then, Olga replied blah blah blah...

Me: "Huh? Who?"

Turns out my good friend was referring to several priests and sisters. Who knew?

Look, good people. The ordained — and religious as well — didn't go through a lot of stuff, only to be addressed by the guy who pumps your gas. By omitting their titles—titles conferred upon them by God—you're dumbing down the respect their office deserves. So please. Cut it out.

"But parish priest insists that I call him by his first name!"

Don't do it. Politely decline, if necessary. Pray for him, certainly. He may very well think that, by doing this, he's "coming closer" to his flock. Bah (forgive the pun). What he's in fact doing is relinquishing a precious bit of his authority as a pastor.

Address those called by God by their proper titles.

Save the first name bit for your physicians, senators, and presidents, if you must. (And iff they'll let you.)