Friday, December 25, 2009

Christus Natus Est

Greetings of a blessed Christmas to all of you dear Readers. This fall I was blessed with the ability to go to the Holy Land on Pilgrimage with Fr. Reid and other parishioners of St. Ann's Parish in Charlotte. It was an experience of a life-time, and something I will never forget... and I will never be able to hear or read Sacred Scripture again without having a mental picture of it in my mind... what a grace I have been given!

It is especially important today, as the Sunday Mass of our pilgrimage was held in Shepherd's Field, just outside of the cave in which the "shepherds of that region" would have been "keeping watch over their flocks." Our Mass was outside, on the edge of the hill over looking the valley below, and Bethlehem nestled on the other side of the valley. My heart raced and tears flowed as I pictured the sky and that valley filled with light of the angels and the air heavy with their song... Gloria in excelsis Deo" and the bright star standing above the sleepy town on the other side. (It is no mistake either that my favorite English Hymn is "Angels We Have Heard on High")

Following Mass we "followed in the footsteps" (in our motorized coach!) of the shepherds and went to Bethlehem... entering the Church of the Nativity and descended into the cave to the spot where Christ entered the world to save us... marked by the ever-present "Star of Bethlehem".

It is an amazing thing to have experienced, and over the course of this liturgical year, I hope to share more of my pilrimage experiences with you dear Readers. Until then I leave you with the beginning words of my favorite Italian Hymn of Christmas....

"Tu scendi dalle stelle O Re del Cielo, e vieni in una grotta al freddo e gelo"

(You came down from the stars
O King of Heaven;
and came into a cave,
cold and icy)

Et verbum caro factum est...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Identity: Church Militant

I must admit, gentle Readers, that I have been at times sometimes frustrated and saddened; and well, honestly, quite skeptical of the "brick by brick" concept. Things feel like they are moving only at a glacial pace, but then I step back and think about the over 2,000 year old history of Christ's Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and realize that 40 years, while a generation of souls, is very little in the life of the Church. Even at a glacial pace, glaciers move miles when given time.

Part of what helps me is that I love to study history, and in the 2,000 year history of Christ's Church, there have been some really terrible epochs... times when State authorities or popular revolution has tried to extinguish the light of the Church... and at times it has appeared that these evil forces had succeeded, but the Church has survived! -- protected and guided by the Holy Spirit and witnessed by the blood of the Martyrs.

Whether Roman persecutions, English Reformation suppression, French Revolution anti-clericalism, Post-Vatican II liturgical confusion, and Obama administration anti-Catholicism... the Church will survive until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!

But we must also defend the Church, and we must be witnesses to her Truth as the martyrs of the past, and frankly, the martyrs of today... look at Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, China, Philippines, Latin America, and so many other places that even in today's "enlightened" world, Christians are tortured and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ.

We must stand up to be counted in the public square as well as in the private square of our own homes. We much teach and live the Faith that has been given to us to our children, family, and friends... Pray for our Pope! Pray for our Church and her priests! Let history not record us as deserters of our Faith, weak and lacking in courage; but rather, may it record us as a generation that lived to up to the traditional teaching of the the Church Militant who at the end of the race had fought the good fight.

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalevunt adversus eam. -- Matthew 16, 18

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fact: Oct. 24: Next Missa Cantata at St. Ann's in Charlotte, NC

And so it continues dear Readers, as Father Z so often says "brick by brick" the fruits of Summorum Pontificum continue to flourish as St. Ann's (and it wonderful priest, Fr. Reid) prepares for its next Missa Cantata on October 24 for the Solemn Feast (anticipated) of Christ the King! This will also be held in the "transformed" church which will be just a perfect setting for this Mass of the Ages.

Please pray for Fr. Reid and the Altar servers in training as they prepare for this next Mass.

"Et adorabunt eum omes reges terrae: omnes gentes servient ei" (Psalm lxxi)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fact: Second Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum

Today marks the second full year since our Holy Father's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the blessings and graces of the liberation of the Extraordinary form of the Mass continue to be felt worldwide!

A day does not go by that I do not thank God Almighty for giving us this Pope at this time in our history. He is an extraordinary teacher and with Summorum Pontificum he unleashed the full graces of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to begin recovering our Catholic Identity.

Without his efforts, none of this would have been possible....

Missa Cantata at St. Ann's in Charlotte, NC


San Giovanni Laterano -- Rome, Italy

Notre Dame Cathedral -- Paris, France

Westminster Cathedral -- London, UK

St. John Cantius -- Chicago, USA

Lourdes, France

Seton Hall University, USA





Dublin, Ireland



For the first time in over 40 years, the Extraordinary form of the Mass has become more and more accessible, offered again in the many of the great cathedrals and basilicae of the world, as it had been offered over 1500 years prior. Its reverence and graces wash over the nostalgic and young alike. As faithful come into contact with this form of the Mass, many are touched and pulled closer to the ancient Tradition of Holy Mother Church.

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." (Benedict XVI Explanatory letter to Summorum Pontificum)

Thank you so much Holy Father for returning this treasure of the Church to the faithful and for being the wonderful Shepherd that your are to us.

Viva il Papa!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Identity: The Crucifix

Christ is risen... Alleluia! He is truly risen... Alleluia, alleluia!

I start this posting with that well-known dialogue, because we worship a living and risen Lord. Without the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we would have no salvation... but without His Passion and Death, there would be no Resurrection!

Christ's sacrifice of himself on Calvary for the salvation of the world is the key act of redemption itself, an it is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings us to... to the very foot of the Cross of Christ at Calvary... standing there with His Blessed Mother and the Apostle who loved Him!

The Crucifix is a key identifier of Catholic identity... It hangs in our churches (or should!), it leads our processions (or should!), it is venerated (or should be!), it hangs around our necks and on our rosaries. It is what reminds us Catholics of the great love and sacrifice that our Savior and God offered for us! It invites us to not be afraid to carry our own crosses and to offer up our own sufferings.

We are often accused by our Protestant brothers of idol worship, or even worse, that we worship a dead God. But it is they that are missing the point... that without Christ's death on the cross there is no salvation or glory for them to preach about. We Catholics to not look about the Crucifix that hangs in front of us the "end" of Christ's journey... but the portal by which we will also enter into the Death & Resurrection of Jesus.

We Catholics look at the suffering that our God endured for our sins... to remind us how our continued sinning only adds to the suffering which our Lord continues to feel... for in God there is all time, and no beginning and end, so he feels all to well the pain of the sins that we continue to lay upon his yoke.
If one is honest with themselves they realize the difference that one internalizes when gazing upon a cross without a Corpus versus one with our Suffering Lord. It is not idol worship... it is visualization of the Love that is God.

We as Catholics cannot allow for the Crucifix to loose its power to convey that important message of Salvation... we cannot allow it to be replaced by a cross without the Corpus... or to have the important sacrificial offering to be replaced by a cross with the Risen Christ "jumping off " the cross... Christ rose from the tomb, not the cross! He suffered and died on the cross... for us!!

In a time when even some of the shepherds of the flock seem to have forgotten that Christ's offering was a Sacrifice, we must ensure that the Crucifix stands always before us to ground us to what the Church teaches and what we believe... Lex orandi, Lex credenti!

Stabat Mater dolorosa, juxta crucem lacimosa

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Grapevine: Solemn High Mass in Greensboro

Word is spreading that if all the pieces come together, there will be a Solemn High Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church, 2205 W. Market St., in Greensboro, NC on Sunday 21 June 2009, 4pm. All credit to Sid Cundiff who posted this news in the comments here.

The last High Mass that I attended at Our Lady of Grace was just spectacular, and for any of those who have not personally experienced this, I strongly encourage you to assist at Mass on the 21 June.

Here are some photos that I found online (credit News-Register) of the last Mass that I attended....
Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam (Psalm xlii)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fact: Missa Cantata at St. Ann's Charlotte - Ascension Thrusday, May 21st

Official communication has come out from internal sources at St. Ann's in Charlotte that there will be a Missa Cantata on Ascension Thursday, May 21st, at 7.00pm.

What a fantastic blessing on the flock of city of Charlotte, to not only have a Mass offered on the actual day of Ascension itself, but a Mass in the Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata!!

Please share with all of your firends and family to support Father Reid in this wonderful grace-fill event!

Viri Galillaei, quid admiramini aspicientes in caelum? (Introit of Ascension Thursday)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Grapevine: Missa Cantata at St. Ann's??

I am hearing that there may be a Missa Cantata at St. Ann's for Ascension Thursday. There have been more than enough servers trained at St. Ann's in Charlotte, and I understand a Schola Cantorum has been practicing... please pray that this can soon be reported as a "fact" on our blog.

Introibo ad altare Dei.... ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Identity: Veiling of Images for Passiontide

As we are deep into Passiontide, I thought that I would share a small element of our lost Catholic Identity that is starting to make a bit more of a comeback. The covering of statues and sacred images beginning with the First Passion Sunday (i.e. the Sunday before Palm Sunday).

As with all the sacramentals of the Catholic Church, the imagery and focus that it creates for the faithful is amazing. An old priest I knew used to describe it as the Church, as the Body of Christ, dying in a physical way. Father Z on his blog as also described it similarly in that Holy Mother Church begins to slowly "take things away" from us, with the lacking making us more away of what is missing the deeper we get into the Triduum until Holy Friday when the silence and bareness of the church gives a stunning symbolism of the dying and suffering Saviour.

To put it another way... it is the same feeling I get after the Feast of the Epiphany when I take down all the Christmas decorations and the tree... the emptiness created in the house is amazing. That is the same feeling that the Church is trying to create in us... a feeling of emptiness and loss... until that glorious moment of the Great Easter Vigil... the Gloria in Excelsis and the opening of the lights, the lighting of the candles, and yes, the unveiling of the images! All that was lost in returned to us and more!

In my old beloved Italian parish of San Leonardo in Boston, we move from Friday's statue in the crypt church of Gesu' Morto (the dead Jesus statue) last seen as the "burial cloth" is pulled over it to the Easter Vigil uncovering on the high altar of the grand statue of Gesu' Risorto! (the risen and glorious Christ).

Some of our protestant brothers dislike our use of statuary and sacred images, but we Catholics do not worship the images themselves , but use them in helping a human with five "physical" senses to create the mental and "spiritual" imagine.

As I mentioned, the more liberal or "modern" parishes have shunned this veiling practice, but it should not surprise us, at least here in Charlotte, that where the more traditional and orthodox priest lead their flocks... namely St. Ann's and St. Michael's... the images are veiled! (Note: I understand that St. Michael's images are not covered this year, but have been in the past).

So as we move into this Holiest of weeks... and "die" with Christ & his Holy Church let us pray in the Holy Friday song of the Italians...

Sono stato, io l'ingrato; Gesu' mio, perdon, pieta'!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Identity: Male Altar Servers

Once again I must beg the indulgence of my dear Readers for my long absence from posting. Much of the goings-on in our economy have hit hard in the Banking industry of which I am remain quite proud to work for. That said, I may have a few future posts that will express my absolute horror of the governmental direction of this country, but that is for the future if I decide I want to wade into potential political controversy.

Although today’s posting may not be so uncontroversial either, but it goes to the heart of a key element of Catholic identity that we have lost: Male-only altar servers! No I am sure this will upset some folks who will immediately take issue with the central thesis of post, but to you say in advance, get your own blog and share your failed ideas there (I know, perhaps I bit uncharitable there, but I feel strongly on this one.)

Young men and boy altar servers were once the norm of our Faith. Unlike what you see in most parishes today, it was the only norm, and it was often the key to the call of a sacred priestly vocation. The development of a bond between priest and server in the old rite was very important in sparking the instillation of education and understanding of the priest’s role in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The boys who had to get up early before school, even on Saturdays to help serve Father at Mass, especially for private Masses, was key to showing the young man that even without a church-full of people, the offering of Mass was a constant need to be lifted up to God! It gave new meaning to Christ’s words “where 2 or more of you are gathered in my name, there am I also!”

The server’s role at Adoration and Benediction, his preparation of the priestly attire and holy accruements, the server’s responses on behalf of the people naturally brought the young man into a role as an intermediary not unlike that of the priest, but obviously to a lesser degree. However it was in these encounters of serving and assisting the priest in the mystery of the sacraments, that if there was a calling, the young man could begin to explore it, advancing his involvement in serving and more importantly, sharing his discernment with his pastor.

Now, some folks will say… “Yeah right, so if I even agree with your principle premise that proximity to the priest in the offering of the Sacraments leads to vocations, then there are still male altar servers who can have that calling take place.”

And now we get to the crux of the controversy. (Disclaimer: I am not a researcher, and I will not for the sake of a part-time blog bother to find the citations that will prove my point, because what I will be stating is all too readily known by those who have or know young people.) When we think of the typical age of an altar server, perhaps 8-18 years old, we all know a couple of facts…1) girls develop faster at younger ages that do boys, and 2) boys want very little to do with girls at these younger ages. We must clearly face the facts that boys and girls are different (so are men and women, and that is the way in which God made us!)

By allowing girls to serve at the altar, we cause harm to the cause of vocations and general confusion of the faithful in the following ways:
  • The faster developing girls “catch on faster” to the tasks of serving and fill a natural leadership role which leads to the girls being “in charge” and that boys, who want little to do with them in general at this age, will decide not to be a part of a group where the girls are doing and leading.
  • By having girls at the altar, they too, as with a boy, get to see up close the priest’s life and have a natural desire to want to emulate or become it (as we would hope for a boy) but which is a totally false vocation for the girl. It sets her, and the faithful that see her at the altar, up for a confusion of roles.
I am not out of my tree or in another universe here. And those individuals who are honest with themselves and have seen parish life outside of the comfort of perhaps their own parish know what I am saying is true. A mixed server parish has a majority ratio of their servers as girls, and the excuse is always “we cannot get enough boys who want to serve.” (hmm, I wonder why?)

Parishes that use boy-only servers are full of young men and boys willing to serve. Why at St. Michael’s parish in Gastonia, NC, near Charlotte, the 10.00am Sunday Mass (Novus Ordo) can have as many as 17 servers for that one Mass alone! All dressed in their cassocks and cotta, and the mother of 3 of the boys has told me that her boys love to serve because “it makes them feel like men”. Isn’t that a nice thing to see… a positive role model for your young men in today’s society?

Also, at the weekly Mass in the Extraordinary form held at St. Ann’s parish at 6.00pm on Wednesday nights, while it is a still a Low Mass with only two servers, there can been as many as six additional boys “sitting in choir” (a total of 8), ready and waiting for the time that Father Reid can progress the Low Mass to a Missa Cantata. And listen to this...there are boys standing in the back of the church longing for their opportunity to be serving the altar…LONGING to be closer to the priest and to Christ on the altar. My dear Readers… this is from where our future priests will come!

If you doubt the power of God’s call on our young or of those you who consider it an honor to serve the priest, I would ask you to go over to the blog of an incredible young man whom I have referenced before. His journey of discernment and his call to faith is heart-warming, and I ask all of you to pray for him that God’s Will be done, whatever path that may be for him.

Lastly, if anyone doubt to power and draw of serving at God’s altar, and being around other religious and reverent minded boys, please take the time to read St. John Bosco’s biography on the life of St. Domenico Savio. As part of my Lenten journey this year, I was moved to read it again, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes when one sees the faith and innocence of this saintly youth, who grew up in as difficult and evil a time as what we feel now, but managed to live by his motto of “Death, but not sin!” I feel so unworthy when I measure myself against this young boy!

But the key to my point regarding St. Domenico Savio is not just his holiness, but through his closeness of serving St. Don Bosco, and inspiring others of his age to also participate, vocations grew, from which came the entire Salesian order! The key to any generation’s future is dependent on its youth. The future of our priesthood is likewise dependent on the male youths of our parishes. We must do all that we can to help any calling that God may be sending to be heard amongst the din of debauchery that society surrounds our youth with…the true work of the Devil to deprive us of the lifeblood that the sacred hands of priest are concentrated for… the Eucharist!

Ss Domenico Savio e Luigi Gonzaga, Patrons of Catholic Youth, pray for our young people and for holy priests!