Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New blog name!

After running across yet another blog title "This space intentionally left blank," I decided I have to make a move. At first, I thought I'd insert "Catholic" in between "This" and "space" so the title would be "This Catholic space intentionally left blank." That really just didn't do much for me.

Some of the recent debates in the local parish have focused on a divide between progressives and conservative or orthodox parishioners. One of the problems is that those of us who are more conservative are frequently accused of being pharisaical—too bound up in the Law or too legalistic. This morning on my return from dropping my daughter off at school, I thought about Christ's reference to phylacteries when He berates the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:

5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.


Phylactery is the Greek term. The Hebrew word in Tellefin. Here's what they look like:



And that is the inspiration for the blog name. I hope it causes no offense to anyone.

Sometimes I'm a tad dogmatic, and it shows. I think that's appropriate for someone who intends to get a degree in dogmatic theology. In everything, I try to understand the best I can and represent the faith as best I can. I think of it as a healthy respect for the law, but it comes with a great love for the Truth. I hope that dimension shines through as well.

UPDATE: Greetings, all you Happy Catholic readers. Feel free to let me know what you think of the new name.

More Must-See Catholic TV

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

Tuesday night looks promising. Hey, that's tonight!

8:00 PM. The Bob Bellarmine Show. Bob has a crisis on his hands when wacky next-door neighbor Howard Galilei (with his nutty astronomy theories) just won't leave him alone at mealtimes. With Suzanne Pleshette as Sister Emilia and Urban VIII as Peter Bonerz.
8:30 PM. The Trastamara Family. Tango-crazed Ferdinand (John Astin) and Isabella (Carolyn Jones) wonder what all the fuss is when daughter Juana la Loca's (Lisa Loring) schoolteacher complains that the girl won't let go of her husband Archduke Philip the Handsome. Except he's dead. Also starring Jackie Coogan as Uncle Ximenes and Philip the Bewitched as Cousin Itt, with Ted Cassidy as family retainer Llurch.
9:00 PM. Monk. Obsessive. Compulsive. Discalced. Detective. Today's episode: Fr. Monk Does the Lavabo and Prolongs Mass for Three Extra Hours. Starring Tony Shalhoub.
10:00 PM. Father Ted: The College Years. With Dustin Diamond as Fr. Noel Furlong. Rerun.


[Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

1 Corinthians 13: 5-7

I've been finding lectio divina to be such an excellent form of prayer, I've actually dropped back in some of my other practices so I can have time for it. I'm still learning to be patient and let myself engage without thinking about time. As a self-employed consultant, that sorta goes against my grain.

My focus has drifted between a few different passages. Today I landed on verses 5–7:

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


This isn't a particularly easy section to unpack, mostly because it appears to have all it says on the surface. However, if you scratch a little, you find something more underneath. What struck me about this passage was not what Paul says, but what he doesn't say–what he implies or leaves silent.

The latter half of five and verse six are pretty clear. Things begin to get a bit hairy at verse seven: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

What does this mean? Particularly, what does it mean to believe all things or to hope all things? Are we to believe whatever we're told unquestioningly, to hope for things that aren't seemly? Of course not. So there's some clarification that needs to be made. We get a hint in the first clause: "Love bears all things."

It make no sense to talk about bearing something that is completely burdenless. Sometimes people will jokingly comment that they think they can bear something that is enjoyable. It reminds me of when someone does something pleasurable for someone else (like massaging their shoulders or scratching their back), and the recipient turns to them in mock seriousness and says, "I'll give you 30 minutes to stop doing that."

So as a joke, we might "bear with" completely pleasurable experiences, but in the norm, we only talk about bearing things that are burdensome: things that need to be or must be borne. The same goes for endurance. We endure things that are difficult. It makes little sense to endure things that require no challenge.

We bear suffering and pain. We endure ridicule and humiliation. The meaning of these two clauses is hidden by what is not present in the verse. So analogously, we can fill in the meaning for the two other clauses.

Love believes all things.


Does love believe everything, including falsehood and heresy? Clearly not. Love believes all things that must be believed. What does it mean for love to believe all things that must be believed? Isn't that what faith is for? And what about the next clause?

Love hopes for all things.


For all things without restriction? No, but for those things for which we should hope, namely communion with God, attaining the Beatific Vision, for gaining access to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit.

[F]aith, hope, and love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love.


Love is the greatest because love is what helps us to have these other two virtues in their proper form. Love draws us to faith and gives us hope. Without love, our faith is in some sense lacking. Without love, our hope is, well, hope-less.

We can then back up and use this concept to enlighten us further about verse five and six: "5 Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right."

If we believe what must be believed through love, then part of our adherence to the Church and Its teachings is driven through love. If we hope to attain salvation and the Beatific Vision, it is ultimately our love of the "Truth, the Way, and the Life" that leads us there.

It is not our way that we insist upon, but we need to insist upon the Way.

The last bit of unexplicated text is this: "[I]t is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right."

If love does the insisting, it insists on something outside of us: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What happens when we get bound up in our own activities, even if they are motivated by the right details of faith, is that we become resentful and irritable. We must remember the source of our own faith and hope: love. We must remember that our way is not as important as the Way. It's easy for us to confuse our way with the Way if we focus solely on the details of faith. We have to remember faith and that which should motivate it, love. In the congress between love and faith, faith is present in its fullness. That's not to say we should ignore practices or claims that run counter to the faith. We should rejoice in the right and not the wrong. However, we must attempt to resolve problems in a spirit of love rather than a spirit of irritability and resentment.

There is a point at which we must shake the dust from our feet, but if we do so before we've fully entered the village, we've done so precipitously.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Last Word...

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.

Bill


On the subject of the wayward deacon.

My apologies to those of you who hoped I was discontinuing the blog. :-)

One of the trends that I've noticed is that the dissenting voices in American Catholicism seem to get the most liberty, while those who cry for preservation of our traditions and reverence for our liturgy seem to come under fire as being pharisaic or even fascistic. You can pick the progressive figures of your preference (Bsp. Gumbleton, Bsp. Brown, Cdnl. Mahoney) and see that it's the case.

While we on the more conservative side don't seem to be granted much grace, we are expected to be tolerant, to give... and we have given.

And many of us are done. We will not stand for irreverence in the presence of Our Lord. We will not be tolerant when faced with intolerance for our Catholic faith. We will not allow our heritage to be wrested from our hands to create a shiny happy Catholic Church in which there is no death, no judgement, no Heaven or Hell because ultimately that means that there is no hope and no redemption. God is Mercy. And God is Justice. And God is Love. When we focus on one of these attributes in exclusion to the others, we lose sight of the fact that they are all God. We cannot exclude the truths we don't like. We must embrace the whole truth, or we are wasting our time.

I pray for wisdom and truth to be granted to our priests and deacons, and for all of the laity, myself included.

Deo gratia!

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

What's with Microsoft Word and Baptismal Fonts?

Ironic Catholic has the answer!

Make sure to check out the comments for a few groaners, particularly for those Catholic publishing geeks in the blogosphere.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Another Note on the Impending Second Reformation

I wanted to make one last comment on the idea of a new reformation, and I'll stay away from any sticky points of doctrine concerning the willful refusal to stay with the Church with full knowledge that it is the Church that Christ instituted.

What I'd like to say is that there's no reason to start a new reformation. The old one is still alive and kicking, and it's right down the street and around the corner from St. John's.

However, if you decide to swim across the Tiber in that direction, be aware that a whole bunch of them are swimming the Tiber join up: Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Lutherans, and Anglicans. Heck there are a fair number of atheists and agnostics as well.

You might also want to take a close look at what's happening in the ECUSA these days. Matters in other Protestant communions are not faring well either.

Reformation is not the answer (as some 6000 denominations evidence).

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Dissent from the Pulpit: What Should Happen Next?

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.

Bill



I've been reading some of the comments on Dominican Idaho, and I'm surprised at a few of the posts. I guess I shouldn't be. Even some of the people I know who understand the problems with what the deacon said weren't quite sure they heard him correctly.

The problem here is that about half of the people at the 10:00 AM Mass understood him one way. The other half didn't hear it that way. So at very least, the deacon's message was misundersood by half of the people. If nothing else, we should get some clarification about his meaning in a public manner—not in a private session between on parishioner and the deacon. I don't think the deacon has time to meet with half of the members of the parish. If he was misunderstood by those of us who took offense, he needs to explain what he did and did not mean, preferably during the announcements and not as a second follow-up homily.

That's if we really misunderstood him. But I don't think we misunderstood him at all.

The first part of the homily seemed okay, but I knew it was taking a bad turn when he said of the extraordinary ministers* that they can, "wash the dishes, but they can't purify the vessels."

You see, he was equating these two items. Cleansing the remaining Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice is equal to washing the dishes. Did he say this explicitly? No. And maybe that's not how he meant it. I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

But he went on. He called it a slap in the face of the Laity. Most of the Laity were not aware they'd been "offended" until this point. But by this the Laity were offended in one of two ways: either they took the action of the Church (in Its role as the legislator and arbiter of liturgical practice) as a true personal offence, or they were offended that the deacon would make such a claim.

Then he said, "But let's see it through the other lense."

I thought, "Okay, maybe he'll turn this around."

But that's not what happened. He mentioned the subtle changes that had been talking place, the requirement for extraordinary ministers to wait to come up to the altar, and a few other changes I can't recall. He asked how many more changes supposedly prompted by Vatican II would be rolled back (the sign of peace, altar girls, lay lectors, and who knows what else). He indicated that we needed to educate ourselves about our faith (which, in itself, is a great suggestion, given the correct resources). He said we need to speak up make our voices heard and to challenge such decisions.

What we in the 10:00 Mass did not get to hear was the opinion he voiced concerning the reform of the reform. Here's Mark's recollection:

His final words; more members of the congregation agree with him than me (and that deserves a boast?), and that if the reform of the reform continues, there will be another "Reformation!"


UPDATE: I apparently was not clear about this incident. Apparently, this statement transpired during the conversation after the 8:00 AM Mass. I apologize for the error.


I think the people at coffee and donuts after Mass might've disabused the deacon of that notion, and if you tak a look around the blogosphere, I think that claim is a bit outlandish. But even if it is, we have from him the claim that

- the people's voices should dictate liturgical practice, not the Holy See

- the people of the Church should "challenge" the proper authority of the Holy See

- the people will walk if they don't get their way

There is nothing in that message that reflects on the readings, that expounds on the teaching of the Church, or that in any way elucidates the meaning of Lumen Gentium (as he suggested).

He voiced his opinion, not Catholic teaching. And he encouraged us to challenge legitimate authority.

When one in power over another challenges someone's decision, that is an act befitting the role. When a subject challenges the decisions of his or her ruler, that is an act of disobedience.

What echoes in my ear when I hear such things is an ancient utterance.

Non serviat! "I will not serve!"

And I cannot accept such words from an ordained minister of the Church.

Then came the last dramatic gesture—genuflecting to the people. One person left this comment:

The Deacon at mass had been talking about our call to be "Priest, Prophet and King", and genuflected to the congregation in an act of reverence due all who worship our Lord.


Actually, we are not priest, prophet, and king. Christ is. We are called to share in His office, not to usurp it.

As Mark pointed out very clearly, it is a reserved action. Using it to glorify people is simply wrong. Glorifying people for what they can only do through Christ is wrong. We cannot be Holy in unless we are Holy in Christ.

One last point about Christian charity.

I believe that many of the people defending the deacon are doing so, not because they believe his message to be correct, but because they love the deacon. Well, here's a news flash. We do, too. We might not know him well enough to love him in his individuality, but we love him as a member of the Church, as a member of our community, and as a member of the human race. Some of us are probably not voicing that love very well. In that, we need to repent.

However, what the deacon needs to do is explain to us what he meant. And if he meant what we think he meant, he needs to recant, as it clearly constitutes disobedience to proper authority. I will keep praying that he does so.

*Note I use the term extraordinary ministers rather than Eucharistic ministers. That's because extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are extra-ordinary—out of the ordinary, to be used in extraordinary circumstances. The fact that they've become so ordinary is part of the problem that is being corrected by the Holy See.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Monday, January 22, 2007

Liturgy and the Holy Father

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, Anita has posted some excerpts from Sacrosanctum Concilium concenring liturgical norms. For updated documentation on liturgical norms for the Latin rite, see the GIRM. You'll notice that even this document, which dates from 2003, doesn't allow many of the aberrations we encounter at Mass.

I've been reading the Holy Father's book The Spirit of the Liturgy during my morning devotional. It's an excellent resource if you want to understand Pope Benedict's take on the current chaos that occurs at some masses.

I mentioned the phrase "active participation" in my post on Lumen Gentium. Although I've heard some people comment on the misuse to which this phrase has been put by liturgical directors, I think the best came from Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (Aurem Cordis) who explained that the Latin term for "active participation" (or participatio actuosa) actually means engagement, as opposed to the external activity that some liturgists seem to think it means.

The Holy Father underscores this point in his book as well. He covers this topic in part 4, chapter 2. Right off the bat, he identifies the problem:

Unfortunately, the word was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, enatiling a need for general activity, as if as many people as possible, as often as possible, should be visibly engaged in action. However, the word "part-icipation" refers to a principal action in which everyone has a "part."


What has happened instead is that various roles that used to be restricted are now open, and new roles have been defined. We haven't had the misfortune to encounter liturgical dancers at St. John's, but there have been enough subtle abuses to rankle some of us. What bothers us is not change. It's indiscriminate novelty for its own sake. Organic change is fine and is part of the natural development of the liturgy. Novelties as matters of personal expression are not. They have no place in a liturgy ordered to our Creator. They turn our worship of Him into a worship of ourselves. The Holy Father even points out that applause turns liturgy into a celebration of human effort rather than a glorification of God. Most of all, it takes us away from our true role:

We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Doing must really stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio [the spoken word of the liturgy]. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him. The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point.


The Spirit of the Liturgy is an excellent explication of the Mass by the Holy Father. If you want to understand the norms and the proper ordering of the liturgy, it's indispensible.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What Lumen Gentium Really Says

Anita posted an interesting item concerning the Holy Father's response to the French bishops who publicly opposing the upcoming motu proprio concerning the Tridentine liturgy. Her commentary on one bishop's response is rather telling:

One of these bishops is quoted as having inanely uttered the following: "One cannot erase Vatican II with a stroke of the pen."

As we know, even a quick read-through of Sacrosanctum Concilium is enough to tell us precisely who it is that is erasing Vatican II, and who has been doing it ever since the Council adjourned -- and it ain't Pope Benedict.


She even helpfully highlights some of the high points of this dogmatic constitution.

A I mentioned, people who often refer to the Spirit of Vatican II as an excuse for novelties have either apparently not read the documents or have gravely misinterpreted them. In particular, I think Lumen Gentium is profoundly misunderstood on both extremes of the Church.*

I decided to reread Lumen Gentium today to see where someone might find the seeds of acceptable dissent. It might simply be that I have on the wrong pair of glasses, but I don't see it. However I do see a whole lot that talks about the proper role of the laity, in relation to the authority of the Church. For your benefit, I'll post some of them here.

From section 22:

In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head.(27*) This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff.


From section 23:

For it is the duty of all bishops to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church, to instruct the faithful to love for the whole mystical body of Christ, especially for its poor and sorrowing members and for those who are suffering persecution for justice's sake,(160) and finally to promote every activity that is of interest to the whole Church, especially that the faith may take increase and the light of full truth appear to all men. And this also is important, that by governing well their own church as a portion of the universal Church, they themselves are effectively contributing to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which is also the body of the churches.(34*)


I want to point out the term discipline in this paragraph. Unlike a doctrine, a discipline is not something binding in the same way as it is for doctrine. It is binding in that the discipline is for the proper ordering of the Church. Because of this, discipline can change. You can read more about Ecclesiastical Discipline here. Some examples of discipline are the specific practices in the form of the liturgy and priestly celibacy. While these can change, we're still subject to the appropriate authority to determine what those disciplines are.

The dust-up we've had recently stems from the suggestion that the laity should challenge the authority of the Holy See to make changes in matters of discipline. While I think it's certainly reasonable to want to understand changes and the reasons for them, I think the idea of "challenging" such changes is problematic. A "challenge" is what one does when wants to fight, not to submit. While we should certainly want to ask questions of our Holy Father's intentions, we shouldn't be challenging Him on matters that are clearly within his jurisdiction.

Besides that, we also owe obedience to our bishops, and it is through our bishops that disciplinary changes reach the faithful.

From section 26:

Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is regulated by the bishop, to whom is committed the office of offering the worship of Christian religion to the Divine Majesty and of administering it in accordance with the Lord's commandments and the Church's laws, as further defined by his particular judgment for his diocese.


And in 27:

In virtue of this power, bishops have the sacred right and the duty before the Lord to make laws for their subjects, to pass judgment on them and to moderate everything pertaining to the ordering of worship and the apostolate.


Wht about priests and deacons? How do they fit into this hierarchy? (BTW, that word is used many times in Lumen Gentium. In fact, section 8 discusses the fact that one cannot separate the hierarchical structure of the Church from the mystical Body of Christ.)

Well, priests and deacons are office holders in the givernance of the Church:

Bishops, therefore, with their helpers, the priests and deacons, have taken up the service of the community, (11*) presiding in place of God over the flock,(12*) whose shepherds they are, as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing.


So what is the role of the Laity? Is it to conscientiously dissect every decision made by the Holy See and the college of bishops to determine whether changes are suitable?

Not according to section 37:

The laity should, as all Christians, promptly accept in Christian obedience decisions of their spiritual shepherds, since they are representatives of Christ as well as teachers and rulers in the Church. Let them follow the example of Christ, who by His obedience even unto death, opened to all men the blessed way of the liberty of the children of God. Nor should they omit to pray for those placed over them, for they keep watch as having to render an account of their souls, so that they may do this with joy and not with grief.(


But what about the common priesthood? Isn't that essentially the same as the hierarchical priesthood? Why shouldn't laity have the same roles as priests?

Here's where the rubber meets the road.

Section 10:

Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ.(2*) The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.(3*) They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.


Whoop! There it is!

The ministerial priesthood presents the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it in the name of all the faithful to God. We exercise our priesthood by "receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity."

We have different roles. They are ordered by the Church, which is the Body of Christ, and which is ruled over by the visisble head on Earth (section 18), the Holy Father.

I could go on, but you can read the document yourself. You won't find anything there to support the notion of "challenging" authority or loyal dissent. While subsidiarity is ideal, sometimes the Holy Father has to make decisions to enhance solidarity. It is our obligation to submit and to seek understanding, not to challenge and seek our own ends.

*With due respect to Fr. John, I really do see myself somewhere in the midst of that continuum. I don't adhere to ultra-traditionalism or to the "Call to Action | We are Church | Catholics for a Free Choice" or any of the organizations that claim to be Catholicism while dissenting from the doctrines of the faith.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

That goes for our priests and deacons, too!

That is, the combox posting.

Based on Fr. John's excellent homily today, I have to wonder if some of the parish staff have come across my blog. I got a somewhat chilly reception from some quarters today, and Fr. John also specifically mentioned blogs. Given all the activity in the local blogosphere concerning Mass last week, that should come as no surprise.

So, if you're a priest, deacon, pastoral associate, or parish staff member of St. John's, I welcome you. Please feel free to leave comments. This blog is not just about me spouting off. It's a means for me to seek clarification and feedback. I also have a rather strict sense of propriety concerning blog courtesy. I essentially won't tolerate bad behavior from anyone. All comments must be offered with charity, or they won't stay in the combox. However, contrary opinions about my views or those of other commenters are welcome and encouraged. So if you want to correct me for something I've written, please feel free to do so, so long as you offer the comments with charity.

Also, I would like to say something about a phrase that's thrown about quite a bit, particularly by those who claim a "Spirit of Vatican II®" that seems to diverge considerably from the documents of Vatican II. The phrase is "active participation."

Far too often, active participation is expected in Mass in ways that were never intended by the drafters of the conciliar documents. However, other forms of active participation often don't seem welcome, particularly when they have to do with the interpretation of Church doctrine or the norms of the liturgy.

This blog is one arm of my active participation in the life of the Church. What I post here is not meant to tear anyone down. It's meant to defend our faith as our first pope, St. Peter, exhorted us to do. I'm always open to correction on the matters on which I post. However, I take my lead not from personal opinion or secular reasoning but from the magisterial authority of the Church. If what I'm told runs counter to what I read in the Catechism, in scripture, in the writings of the Church fathers, or the encyclicals and publications of the Holy See, then I will resist it. I do so, not out of a stubborn refusal to listen to other views, but because I believe I'm called to seek the truth, and I believe the truth subsists in the doctrines of our faith.

And there can be only one truth.

So, welcome again. Pax Christi.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Alphabet, alphabet, alphabet meme...

Sung to the tume of "Jingle Bell Rock."

Why? I have no idea. I hate that song.

Dorian Speed, aka the Anonymous Teacher Person, has tagged me with the Alphabet Meme.

And since I'm trying to avoid my theology homework (not really), I'll respond.

[A is for age]: 42

[B is for beer of choice]: Spaten Optimater

[C is for career]: Technical communications consultant

[D is for favorite Drink]: Uh... other than beer? Ravenswood Zinfandel? Or do you mean nonalcoholic (in which case it would be Very Vanilla Silk soymilk).

[E is for Essential item you use everyday]: Computer

[F is for Favorite song at the moment]: Joy Williams, "Here with us." Makes me sob like a baby.

[G is for favorite Game]: Hmmmm. Trivial Pursuit, followed by Balderdash, followed by Taboo

[H is for Home town]: Mountain Home AFB, Idaho - population 6,749* - SA-LUTE!

[I is for Instruments you play]: Electric bass, classical guitar, folk(-ish) guitar

[J is for favorite Juice]: Grape

[K is for Kids]: One of my own, four stepchildren

[L is for last kiss]: My wife about two hours ago

[M is for marriage]: All for it

[N is for full Name]: What, Theocoid isn't good enough for you?

[O is for Overnight hosp stays]: Appendicitis when I was 15

[P is for phobias]: Heights

[Q is for quote]: It's at the top of my blog!

"You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."

Confessions, St. Augustine

[R is for biggest Regret]: A toughee as there are a few. And a bit personal. Sorry.

[S is for sports]: Karate, kung fu, running

[T is for Time you wake up]: 6:30 AM, usually

[U is for color underwear]: Always

[V is for Vegetable you love]: Okra, fried

[W is for Worst Habit]: Computer gaming

[X is for X-rays you've had]: right leg, spine teeth

[Y is for Yummy food you make]: Marinara, lasagna, hummus d'tahini, crab cakes with buerre blanc (had that last night)

[Z is for zodiac sign]: Sagittarius

*No longer accurate but necessary fr the corny "Hee Haw" tribute.

Gotta run. Tagging everyone who wants to be tagged.

Comments, anyone?

I have a few regular commenters, but I can see from Site Meter that I have a few regular viewers all over the place (Baltimore, Vienna, Arlington, and other exotic locations). Please feel free to drop a note in the combox. It's always nice to get a little feedback to know if I've struck a chord, touched a nerve, or just caused someone to scratch his or her head.

Brownback for President?

Sen. Brownback has officially thrown his hat into the ring.

Can I get an amen?

And another thing!

As I wrote my previous post, I was thinking about the parable of the sheep and the goats, and I could see it in the people of Israel as I described. The sheep are those who hear the Master's voice and obey. The goats are those who'd rather chew tin cans than to follow anyone.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Nehemiah 8: 2–10

I haven't quite finished my devotions this morning, but I wanted to strike while the iron was hot. I decided that I'd gleaned quite a bit out of 1 Cor. 12., so I decided to read the passage for tomorrow from the Old Testament and see how it might shed some light on the epistle or might reveal something else.

The reading is from Nehemiah 8: 2–10.

2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithi'ah, Shema, Anai'ah, Uri'ah, Hilki'ah, and Ma-asei'ah on his right hand; and Pedai'ah, Mish'a-el, Malchi'jah, Hashum, Hash-bad'danah, Zechari'ah, and Meshul'lam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jesh'ua, Bani, Sherebi'ah, Jamin, Akkub, Shab'bethai, Hodi'ah, Ma-asei'ah, Keli'ta, Azari'ah, Jo'zabad, Hanan, Pelai'ah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. 8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

9 And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."


I think one of the problems I have with reading from the books of the prophets is that the narrative often "hides" important details. Maybe a better way to say it is that imagination takes over, and the knowledge one could take from the reading is lost among all the pretty (and not so pretty) little pictures we've drawn in our heads. This is where Frank Sheed's book, Theology and Sanity, has come in so handy over the past week. He talks about taking imagination out of the picture so it doesn't short-circuit our reasoning. He also has an excellent examination of the Trinity, which also helped me to understand this passage from Nehemiah.

The first part that struck me was the interpretation of the law to the people by the Levites:

Also Jesh'ua, Bani, Sherebi'ah, Jamin, Akkub, Shab'bethai, Hodi'ah, Ma-asei'ah, Keli'ta, Azari'ah, Jo'zabad, Hanan, Pelai'ah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. 8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.


The notes in the RSV indicate that the Levites needed to interpret because the Book of the Law was written in Hebrew, while the people were returning exiles from Babylon who now spoke Aramaic. While this could certainly be the case, there's still a sense of a very specific role being played here by the Levites. They "helped the people to understand"; "they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly"; "they gave the sense."

It would not be enough to simply translate the words to give a clear sense and to help people understand. One must have knowledge and wisdom. These, according to Frank Sheed, are two qualities attributed to Christ. He is the Word, which implies He is both Knowledge and Wisdom. Of course, all three persons of the Trinity poses these qualities, but they are attributed to Christ, referred to specifically in the opening of the Gospel of John, but also foreshadowed in Proverbs:

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;


I guess from here it's pretty easy to put the pieces together. Knwoeldge of the Word is knowledge of God, and in a real sense, God is the Law, not merely the Law Giver, but the Law itself. So when we come to know the Word and te Law, we come to know God. Of course, the Law and the Word are merely two attributes of God.

Now, by the Law, I don't mean merely the Levitical proscriptions. I mean the moral law, natural law, the sense we have internally of the rightness and wrongness of acts. To say that God is the Law is part and parcel of saying that God is Justice.

The next piece that jumped out at me was verse 10.

Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."


When the people came to understand the Word, they began to weep. Why? Well, I can think of two reasons for weeping when one comes to the Word, and I can see both playing out simultaneously here. First, there's the sense of the restriction of the Law. We see this playing out all the time when people ask things like

"So why do we Catholics have to do X when Protestants just have to do Y?"

"Why do we have to refrain from contraception?"

"Why do we have to go to confession?"

You can almost see them dragging their feet slumping over, and pouting and saying, "But Daaaaaaaaad, WHY?"

The Law is painful because it makes demands of us, and you have to know that some of the people of Israel were in this state.

But there were others who truly understood, who took to heart this knowledge of the Law, and found in it not pain and discipline but conviction. They knew that they had aggrieved God. They had sinned against Him. And they mourned not because they had to start following the rules but because they had already failed to do so.

Conviction. This is a word I often hear Evangelicals mention. The Holy Spirit convicts us, not in the sense of Judging us but of giving us conviction that what we have done is offensive to God. The Holy Spirit gave the people of Israel, at least those disposed to hearing and knowing the Law (which is God).

But Ezra calls the people back to the good news. God has given them this day to rest, to accept the sacrifice that has been offered for them, and to share that sacrifice with thsoe who don't have anyone to prepare something for them. "Don't grieve! Enjoy what God has given you, and share it with others who don't have it!"

And so the people rejoiced. And they did so for two reasons. Some rejoiced because they could forget about the Law and just enjoy what they had. Some rejoiced because they new that other aspect of God: mercy. In this sense, the Third Person of the Trinity is made manifest. God is the Law (Justice), He is the Word (Knowledge, Wisdom), and He is Love (mercy, abundance).

This is why it's so critical for our priests to be set apart, to be steeped in the Word, and to live it. If they do not live it, they cannot truly know it. And if they don't know it, they can't teach it.

One of the arguments for the attributes of God (Love, Knowledge, Mercy) is that we cannot be given something from the Creator that He doesn't have Himself. So it is with our earthly teachers. They cannot give something they don't have themselves. If they are not holy, they cannot teach us to be holy. If they don't exhibit love and mercy, they cannot teach it to us.

Pray for our priests!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Another Reflection on 1 Corinthians 12:22–26

This method (lectio divina) is turning out to be worth the effort. At the suggestion of my spiritual advisor, I'm sticking with one pass (or pericope) for several days. I think today's experience proved to me just how much one can get out of a single chapter.

As I read the whole passage (12:12–30), I found myself drawn back to the verses below:

22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.


What's particularly notable about the entire passage is that it addresses a situation all too common in the Church today: one group of people is dissatisfied with their lot in the Body of Christ and wants some other role. Because of the emphasis that some have placed on the people of the Church, as opposed to the Body of Christ as a whole, we have individuals who don't understand the various functions and roles that are needed, who see the role of the priest as superior and the active engagement of the congregant as somehow lesser. The situation hasn't changed. It's been with us since the first century. Plus c'est change...

The problem is that these people have the picture upside down. They're seeing the hierarchy from the wrong perspective. So, as Fr. Longenecker might suggest, we need to stand these people on their heads so they can see clearly. St. Paul turns the picture over himself in verse 22:

the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable


So what appears to be the lesser role in the Celebration of the Liturgy is actually indispensable. Those who come to offer the sacrifice of their daily lives are by no means the least. Yet they believe that their only dignity is in trading places with those who are called to be the lowest:

those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require.


Lest we make our priests the butt of a bad joke, we could view verses 23 and 24 as a statement about humility. Those who are less honorable, those who are here to serve, those who sacrifice all in the service of the Church are treated during the Liturgy wth greater honor. But is this because they're more important? Is it because they have "the power"? No! It's because we're honoring the One for whom these priests stand! They're standing in the place of the one who came to serve, the one who washed the feet of the Apostles, the one who died in the most humiliating fashion! The place of honor is not because the priest has the power but because the priest is supposed to come to serve us, the way that Christ served us.

So why all the pomp? Why do we have vestments and gold and finery to remember something that took place in an upper room amidst far more humble circumstances? St. Paul tells us why:

But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.


The priest assumes the role of One who came to serve us, to die for us, to give all for us. In that role, we invest our love because of the treasure that the sacrifice (once and for all) brought to us. That's why we show this honor and reverence during Mass. That's why we don't want common ceramic chalices and wooden platens. Because the reality of that sacrifice is now exposed to us in its real glory. It's not the priest we honor in this fashion. The priests honors us by serving us, which is precisely what Christ did at the Last Supper.

So how else do our clergy serve us? Well, if they take their model from the Apostles, then they safeguard the doctrine of the faith. They hand down what has been handed to them. They exhort us to live lives of sacrifice, morality, and love. They don't lord it over their parishioners. They don't use the Mass as a means of self-expression. That's what Christ meant when he said, "So the last will be first, and the first last."

What does dissent do to us, particularly when it's dissent borne of pride and self-centeredness? It leads to pain, division, anger, and loss of love. We all suffer when our leaders don't lead us with due care: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

Our Church suffers when its members try to be what they're not, when they reject the role they have for the one that seems more elevated, or even, perhaps less exhalted. We need to remember God's plan in all of this, "that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another."

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reflection on Corinthians 12:12–30

I have started practicing Lectio Divina recently, and my spiritual director recommended that I use one of the Sunday readings as the text for my meditation.

While Wikipedia isn't perhaps the best source for information if you need accuracy, some entries are well reseearched and well written. The entry for Lectio Divina seems to me to be one such entry, so I don't feel guilty in quoting its basic outline for the practice here:

Lectio: Read the passage slowy several times.

Meditatio: Reflect on the text of the passage, thinking about how to apply to one's own life. Gravitate to any particular phrase or word that seems to be of particular import. This should not be confused with exegesis, but is a very personal reading of the Scripture and application to one's own life.

Oratio: Respond to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but more of the beginning of a conversation with God.

Contemplatio: Listen to God. This is a freeing oneself from one's own thoughts, both mundane and holy. It is about hearing God talk to us. Opening our mind, heart and soul to the influence of God. Any conversation must allow for both sides to communicate, and this most unfamiliar act is allowing oneself to be open to hearing God speak.


This week, I initially chose to read Corinthians 12:12–14, 27. I chose te shorter reading by mistake, but that might've been fortuitous because it helped me to focus on different parts of the reading at different stages. It's fortuitous because I've been struggling with my response to the situation at our parish following our deacon's inappropriate exercise of his office. (You can read other reflections on this event here, here, and here. Some are quite striking! ;-)

Today, I read a little further on in the passage, and the two parts I had been keeping separate came together, and the meaning opened up to me both how we should see our role in the Church and Sacred Liturgy, as well as how we should respond to those who misunderstand their roles.

Here is the text, including the lead in to the next chapter, which is critical to the understanding of the whole:

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.


What is that most excellent way? Love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


The most excellent way is love, without which gifts of prophecy, healing, tongues, interpretation, and such are meaningless. Love, as Frank Sheed points out in Theology and Sanity, is the appropriation of the Holy Spirit.

We are not all heads. We are not all hands, or feet, or livers of the Body of Christ. We have different roles, and it is unfitting for one member to attempt to usurp the role of another. It's also an unloving thing to do.

Unfortunately, this is where people are getting confused. Some members have given others the wrong impression that the common priesthood and the ordained priesthood are essentially the same based on a misunderstanding of the Vatican II constitution Lumen Gentium.* I had a meeting last night, and a number of people were confused about the deacon's comments. One person, an extraordinary minister, said, "I think we've been demoted."

If this is the way the change has been explained to them I can understand their feelings of hurt. However, it betrays a lack of proper disposition, most likely not the fault of the extraordinary ministers themselves. They've been built up to think of themselves as something they were not intended to be, to take on tasks that are not fitting to their roles in the Body of Christ. They are feet attempting to act as hands. And they're being told that they are hands by the people who should be upholding the ordained priesthood.

So we need to remember to act with love to help these people understand what happened and why the rescinding of the indult was an appropriate thing to do and not a slap in the face.

The day of the event, I sent an email to a couple of parishioners who are frequently at odds with the progressive members of the parish explaining what I think are the reasons behind the rescindment. I'm reporting them here with some adjustments.

- The indult that has not been renewed only came into effect in 2002. It apparently was only in effect in the U.S.

- The GIRM outlines who is permitted to purify the vessels and has done so since long before Vatican II. Given that the document refers to the current GIRM, Vatican II clearly did not abrogate the normative restrictions.

- The normative practice for receiving the Eucharist under both species is via intinction. Moving to the practice of intinction would reduce the number of extraordinary ministers, as well as the number of vessels required for the distribution of the Eucharist.

- Receiving in the hand, which is not the normative means but is permitted, is not possible with intinction.

The ending of the indult appears to be intended to reduce the nonnormative practices of having so many extraordinary ministers and of receiving in the hand. Given that both practices are nonnormative, it seems to me a wise decision meant at curbing abuses and restoring reverence to the reception of the Eucharist.


So how do we respond? I think it's fitting for us to contact our rector, and if necessary, our bishop and voice our concerns. We should be careful to deal with facts and not simply to vent our frustrations. We need to respond in charity to our deacon, pointing out our reasons for disagreement but not sinking to personal attacks. We need to respond in charity to those who also might've been offended by the rescindment, explaining the proper role of the ordained priests and deacons and the wisdom of the Holy See in this process of reforming the reform. And we need to encourage love for the whole Body of Christ, the laity as well as the clergy and religious.

Dissent is the body attacking itself. While aches and pains are part of the normal life of a body, dissent is a cancer. We need to encourage love and care, not division.

*Anita posted passages from a recent discussion on Jimmy Akin's of blog concerning Pope Paul VI's phrase "smoke of Satan." It should be no surprise that a dilution of the concept of priesthood should be connected with Paul VI's comments. Degrading the ordained priesthood is a direct attack on the Eucharist. No ordained priest, no Eucharist.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism]

Monday, January 15, 2007

An email to our rector

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.

Bill


UPDATE: If you are on the parish staff, please feel free to read the rest of the blog, particularly this.


This is the email I sent today to our rector concerning our deacon's homely homily:


Hi, Fr. zzzzzzz

I hope you are enjoying your time away. We miss you here, of course, and I have a number of things on my mind that I would like to discuss with you on your return. Unfortunately, one of them isn't a very pleasant subject, and I suspect that you're already getting an earful from other conservative parishioners.

On Sunday, Deacon yyyyyy gave a homily that I can only describe as shocking, if not flagrantly disobedient. He had some good comments early on concerning how our actions should be performed in light of their long-term effects. Where things went awry was when he began to expound upon his disagreement with the Holy See concerning the decision not to continue the 2002 indult allowing extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist to purify the vessels following communion. He described the decision as a "slap in the face" and opined that other changes could follow (no more altar girls, or communion in the hand or in both species). He essentially encouraged us to challenge the authority who makes such decisions. He ended by what was probably the most shocking action: he genuflected to the congregation—to the people specifically.

Oddly, in the same message, he informed us that we should be seeking information about our faith directly, that we should read the documents of Vatican II, and that we should be informed of our faith. I wouldn't disagree with any of those statements in the least, but I have to wonder if he fully understands the documents of Vatican II himself, specifically, the GIRM, Sacrosanctum Concillium, and Lumen Gentium (to which he referred specifically).

Specifically, my problems with his commentary are

- that he openly encouraged a spirit of dissent

- that he took on himself the role of adjudicating the proper discipline of the liturgy (a role specifically entrusted to the Holy See and to those with Apostolic authority)

- that he performed an act of reverence to people in a liturgy that is intended to give reverence to God

- that he conflated a three-year-old indult (allowance of purification of the vessels by extraordinary ministers) with reforms from Vatican II and tossed in several nonnormative practices as if they were the same as the perpetual practices of our faith

- that he, by his actions, implied that the Church should be a democracy and responsive to the whims of the individual faithful

I, and many other parisioners, saw Deacon yyyyyyy's actions as an abuse of his office. He mentioned several times in his homily that actions speak louder than words. He was quite correct. His actions spoke quite clearly of dissent from the Holy See. That, to me, is not acceptable.

I don't want you to think I wish Deacon yyyyyyy to be treated harshly. I'm praying for him, and I hope that God will grant him wisdom to understand just what he's done. However, I do believe that he needs to retract his suggestion that we dissent from the authority of the Church, and I think he needs to apologize for his genuflection to the congregation, an act some people account as objectively blasphemous.

Our Church is on the rebound, but there needs to be clear direction from our leaders. We need to understand the import of our action and our inaction. Most of all, we need to remember to whom our Savior entrusted the guidance of His flock. We owe our obedience to the Holy Father, even if we don't understand his intentions.

Your child in Christ,

Theocoid



[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Purification of Vessels

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.

Bill


UPDATE: If you are on the parish staff, please feel free to read the rest of the blog, particularly this.

I've been doing some reading to follow up on yerterday's dust-up at Mass. In addition to rereading the dogmatic constitutions of Vatican II, I also went to the USCCB site to read a copy of Cardinal Arinze's letter to Bishop Skylstad. You can find it here.

I sent a copy to some friends from our parish and added the following thoughts on the content of the letter:

- The indult that has not been renewed only came into effect in 2002. It apparently was only in effect in the U.S.

- The GIRM outlines who is permitted to purify the vessels and has done so since long before Vatican II. Given that the document refers to the current GIRM, Vatican II clearly did not abrogate the normative restrictions.

- The normative practice for receiving the Eucharist under both species is via intinction. Moving to the practice of intinction would reduce the number of extraordinary ministers, as well as the number of vessels required for the distribution of the Eucharist.

- Receiving in the hand, which is not the normative means but is permitted, is not possible with intinction.

The ending of the indult appears to be intended to reduce the nonnormative practices of having so many extraordinary ministers and of receiving in the hand. Given that both practices are nonnormative, it seems to me a wise decision meant at curbing abuses and restoring reverence to the reception of the Eucharist.

Another thought that occurred to me is that there could very well be two means provided to the faithful. Those who wish to receive communion in the hand would receive under one species only. Those who wished to receive under both species would receive by intinction on the tongue.

In any case, I saw the deacon's presentation yesterday as a temper tantrum. All this talk about being the body of Christ is absurd if the members rebel against the head. What's more, disciplines of the Church are not up to the whims or desires of individuals; they're up to the people who safeguard the teachings and practices of the Church, those who have been given the Apostolic authority and the heavy duty that that role entails.

I suspect we'll be hearing a lot about yesterday's incident. I just pray that the faith is served appropriately by our leaders.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dissent from the Pulpit

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.

Bill

UPDATE: If you are on the parish staff, please feel free to read the rest of the blog, particularly this.

We has an unfortunate experience at Mass today. One of our deacons, responding to the rescinding of the indult allowing extraordinary ministers to purify the vessels, gave a rather rambling "homily" talking about how the Church hierarchy had delivered a slap in the face to us and essentially advocating open dissent against Church authority. He added insult to injury by genuflecting to the congregation.

Needless to say, we weren't impressed. Although there was some support for his comments, I suspect there was more outrage, if the conversations in the parish hall afterward were any indication. Mark and John at Dominican Idaho both share their perspectives. I'm still trying to decide how I want to respond.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Saintliness in Two Easy Steps

The Spouse of Ironic Catholic (SIC for short) has graciously posted some helpful hints from Mr. Simon Simpletongue on how to be saintly in two easy steps. I find this particularly timely because I recently met with my spiritual director. Mr. Simpletongue's method looks so much less time consuming than slinking through interior castles or doing Lectio Divina for hours on end.*

Simpletongue points out the importance of humility in this quest, particularly some confusion some people have about the nature of true humility:


Unfortunately, many people misunderstand what I mean when I talk about humility. “Simon,” they ask me, “does humility mean that I have to pretend that I might not be right about everything?” Absolutely not! Remember, Scripture tells us that the Lord “humbled himself” by becoming one of us. And is there anywhere in Scripture that the Lord suggests that he doesn’t know it all? As you know, we are called to imitate the Lord; hence, there is no need to pretend that we don’t have all the answers. When you are as holy as me and Jesus, you basically have a hotline to the
mind of God, and God is right about everything.

No, humility means accepting the fact that not everyone will admit that we know the truth, and patiently enduring their abuse and scorn. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake,” the Lord says.


Truly a time saver for the saint on the go. Read the rest here.

*Meant in the spirit of the aforementioned article.


[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Try to be more specific

Well, I was thinking that it would be good to learn more about our new governor. Apparently, God listens to our thoughts as well as our prayers because I ran into our new governor just today...

...in the men's locker room at the downtown YMCA.

That wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Our New Governor

Butch Otter was sworn in today as the 32nd governor of Idaho. You can read about that here. You can read his inauguration speech here. He and our lieutenant governor are both Catholic, and not just the cafeteria variety. In fact, all major candidates for the office of governor and lieutenant governor were Catholic (albeit of varying orthodoxy).

I attended Mass this morning only to discover that 1) we were only having a communion service, and 2) exposition was cut short. As it turned out, there was a special mass in the Cathedral specifically for the occasion of Gov. Otter's inauguration (with the bishop presiding, no less).

Peculiarly Aristocratic

Due to a recent change in my status as a business owner, I felt the need for a title befitting my new station. Here it is.

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Count-Palatine William the Brobdingnagian of Mabe Burnthouse
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title


A tip of the helm to Julie D. for the great find.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Really Praying the Rosary

Paramedicgirl has good news for people who are distracted while praying.

Hmmmm. That would be me.

The good news comes from The Life & Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich

A third woman was praying, and she was distracted repeatedly by worldly thoughts but she fought to overcome this, and each time she successfully focused again on her prayer. Because of this woman's persistence in overcoming her distractions, she had the most beautiful reward of all. Her angel had written in gold letters of the grace she had won and her crown was the most resplendent of all.


I have this problem frequently, particularly in group prayer and contemplative prayer.

[Technorati tags: Catholic, Catholicism]

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Boo, creepy, dissident theologians!

Hooray, class!

My next venture into Catholic theology begins next week. I'm taking my first dogmatic theology class: Norms of Catholic Doctrine. This is my third class and the first that focuses on theology (strictly speaking). I guess this session will tell me if I need to go any further down this path (along with some guidance from the Holy Spirit, of course). I'm planning to focus on dogmatic theology, so I pray that all goes well.

The way the International Catholic University works is that we have lectures on DVD, CD, or VHS. The lecturers are usually well-respected names in the discipline. The lecturer for this course is Marcellino D'Ambrosio. From the looks of the lecture outline, the lectures should be quite detailed. If the lectures are anything like Dr. D'Ambrosio's CDs, then the lectures should be great. We have an online tutor who assesses our work and answer questions we have. Some of these people are pretty well known in their own right. It's not quite like having a class several times a week with Scott Hahn, but it fits in much better with my family life and career.

Maybe someday I'll be able to focus solely on theology, go back to teaching full time, and actually write something that has nothing to do with computer technology. Until then, this will do.

[Technorati tags: Catholic, Catholicism]

The Patriarchy: At It Again!

Retroactively. Or at least that's how some might characterize it.

Mike Aquilina is posting about a feature story in a Greek newspaper concerning the use of contraceptives and abortifacients in antiquity. He points out the Fathers' consistent condemnation of both and notes that Christian condemnation of these evils only came about in the 20th century. My knowledge of the writings of the early Church fathers isn't anywhere close to the depth of Mike's, but a quick look at the first century Didache is enough to put the lie to claims by dissenters that the Church never taught on such matter until as recently as the 1960s.

You (all six or seven of you) might recall that I posted on the topic of contraception a few months back. Pope Paul VI wrote prophetically in Humanae Vitae about the secondary effects of contraception. I think history already bears out the wisdom of his words; science, to a smaller degree, appears to be following.

For now.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Another Catholic for Stirling

Looks like Dale Price may have started a trend when he started touting S.M> Stirling's Dies the Fire trilogy. Now, it appears that Dom Bettinelli is taking the bait. And it also looks like a new sample chapter for The Sunrise Lands is available on Stirling's web site.

Just in time to distract me from my theology studies!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Scriptural Puzzle

This puzzle is posted over at Godzogz (HT to Fr. Dwight Longnecker).

Have fun! Let me know if any of the Deuterocanonical books are present. I haven't found one yet.

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There are thirty books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, that he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john-boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, that she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the books are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a priest or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund-raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi-Lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, 'the books are all right here in plain view hidden from sight'. Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books called Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found.

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[Technorati tags: Christianity

Monday, January 01, 2007

Unbelieveable!

That was the most nerve-wracking, frustrating football game I have ever watched (and I had no intention of watching the whole thing. But in overtime, with a two-point conversion....

Boise State University wins the Fiesta Bowl!

I still can't believe they pulled it off.