Thursday, December 29, 2011


In the January 1, 2012 bulletin there's an unsigned article about new changes coming from our pastoral council. In an effort to improve communications with parishioners, council members will begin wearing name tags, will hold "periodic input sessions" open to parishioners, and allow parishioners to observe and comment at council meetings "during the open portion of the meeting."
Then there's the kicker:

"At times, when the subject matter is sensitive or potentially controversial, the Council’s advice is best given in a closed meeting so that members can give the most honest and candid advice without fear of being vilified or ridiculed, or having their input misquoted out of context or passed to other parish members inaccurately or prematurely."

Video taping the meetings and having them available on the new website would solve some of the problems, unlike statements like above that raise more questions than they answer. What in the world could be so sensitive or controversial that it can't be said in the light of day? This seems like a way of actually keeping council members separated from the parishioners. Council members are supposed to represent parishioners, right? What they have to say and advise should reflect the desires and intentions of those they represent, right?

So, on the one hand, these honest and good people are going to be wearing name tags so we can identify them, speak with them and finally be heard. On the other hand, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of decisions that affect the whole parish, they aren't allowed to speak freely, but must do it in closed session.

Something isn't right.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"I can worship anywhere!"

A narthex
Today it is common to refer to God's people as the Church while simultaneously dismissing as superfluous the physical structures we call churches. In a specific way this is illustrated by Christian groups that regularly meet in school gyms or malls to hold services. It is also very common to hear Christians say, "I can worship anywhere" without giving thought to what kind of worship one is able to do 'anywhere'.

To get specific, it is true that the Church is "A body of men united together by the profession of the same Christian Faith, and by participation in the same sacraments, under the governance of lawful pastors, more especially of the Roman Pontiff, the sole vicar of Christ on earth." (See here for a fuller definition.)

Another definition of the Catholic Church is found here by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. He says, "By comparison with Protestant definitions of the Church, Bellarmine explains that ours is radically different for one basic reason. 'All the rest require only internal virtues to constitute a person in the Church, and, therefore, they make the true Church something invisible. Whereas we also believe that in the Church are found all the virtues: faith, hope and charity, and the rest,' However, for anyone to be called in some sense a part of the true Church, of which the Scriptures speak, what is essential is 'an external profession of faith and communication of the sacraments, which can be perceived by the senses themselves. For the Church is an assembly of men, as visible and palpable as the assembly of the Roman people, or the Kingdom of France, or the Republic of the Venetians.'"

Ivory tabernacle (the Louvre)
It is also true that early on the Church began to define the word 'church' as "derived from the Greek kyriakon (cyriacon), i.e. the Lord's house, a term which from the third century was used, as well as ekklesia, to signify a Christian place of worship."

Additionally, the roots of the Catholic Church derive from the Jewish faith. When the Jews were wandering in the desert at the time of Moses, they carried a moveable tabernacle that was organized by God in very strict terms. This was the physical dwelling place of God with His people, and was called the Tent of Meeting. In the time of David and Solomon, a permanent structure--the temple was built, again according to detailed instructions from God. The red sanctuary lamp in Catholic churches, to give just one example, has its roots in the Jewish tabernacle.

Our Catholic churches are a visible presence in our communities. Their very architecture testifies visibly to Christ's presence with us. According to Fisheaters, "Catholic vision assigns symbolic meaning to the various parts of the church building, as it does to pretty much everything else in the world. The roof symbolizes charity, which covers a multitude of sins; the floor symbolizes the foundation of faith and the humility of the poor; the columns represent the Apostles, Bishops, and Doctors; the vaulting represents the preachers who bear up the dead weight of man's infirmity heavenwards; and the beams represent the champions of ecclesiastical right who defend it with the sword. The nave symbolizes Noah's Ark and the Barque of St. Peter, outside of which no one is saved. The direction of the East represents the Heavenly Jerusalem, and the direction whence the Messiah will return in glory; West represents death and evil."

According to the How-To Book of the Mass, "There is great symbolism in the doors of a church...Your church may or may not have ornate doors, but the symbolism of what the door signifies remains. Sometimes you will see the image of Christ holding a lamb on his shoulders painted or depicted in stained glass over the front of the doors of a church. This reminds us that Jesus said, 'I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.'" (John10:9).

According to Deacon Dean, the iconography of our churches, " a huge part of our Catholic tradition. It communicates our heritage and faith." See here, here, and here for his series of ongoing articles about the iconography of St. Mary's in the All Saints Parish church bulletin.

A Catholic church is simply not like the facilities of other Christians. Inside and out, top to bottom, and most importantly because in them Christ Jesus is present in the Eucharist, Catholic churches are set apart. Unless special circumstances warrant it (military situations, a destroyed church, etc.) according to canon law (932), mass is to be said in a Catholic church. That is the norm and expectation in the vast majority of cases. In fact, if a Catholic church has been desecrated, worship cannot go on there again until a penitential rite has been said (Canon 1211-1212).

The mass, as described by Lumen Gentium fromVatican II is "the source and summit of the Christian life." And according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch." (CCC 1324)

In short, you cannot go just anywhere to worship and receive the Eucharistic blessing that is bestowed on Catholics during worship at mass.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Abortion begats tyranny

What has nearly forty years of legal abortion done to the rule of law in this nation?

From Mark Shea's article at the National Catholic Register: 

The concern about abortion, since the beginning, has been not merely that the killing of unborn children itself is a grave evil (bad as that is), but that the rationale for doing this evil must and will surely become the rationale for oppressing and killing the weak at every level of society. As Mother Teresa said with characteristic simplicity, “If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?” Ideas have consequences. Once you declare that a human being’s right to live comes, not from the hand of God, but from the generosity of the state, you make all members of homo sapiens vulnerable to having their rights stripped from them by anybody with sufficient power to do it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It is the third Sunday in Advent--Gaudete Sunday. The Lord is coming!

On a more sober note, Fr. Tony spoke of the evils of abortion in the homily this morning. You could hear a pin drop. I was grateful to hear abortion denounced from the pulpit. If you get a chance, thank Fr. Tony. The last time I heard it mentioned was a couple years ago when Deacon Dean gave a passionate sermon denouncing it. Needed then. Needed now.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Culture War -- "Shut up and fight"

Boston College's Dr. Peter Kreeft recently spoke at Franciscan University in Steubenville. His searing critique of how evil has infiltrated the Catholic Church through 'PHONEYS' is eye-opening. If you possibly can, take the time to listen (it's about 45 minutes). Dr. Kreeft speaks in the persona of Screwtape, the character of a senior devil in C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. No one is spared Dr. Kreeft's exposé. Oh yeah, PHONEYS stands for 1) Politicization of the Faith, 2) Happy Talk, 3) Organizationalism, 4) Neo-worship, 5) Egalitarianism, 6) Yuppydom, and 7) Spirituality. H/t to

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Teen Angels flying!

The Teen Angels are working their holiday season good will again this year. Don't miss the opportunity to bless a local teen. The Teen Angels have a new fiscal sponsor this year. Read all about it here. You know what to do! All the info needed to get involved is included in the letter.

From the letter:

Our program has recently entered into an exciting venture. The Community Foundation is serving as our new 501c3 administrator and fiscal sponsor. We feel very blessed to have their support and look forward to growing under their care. If you feel inspired to support our teens, you may designate your check to “Teen Angels” or “The Community Foundation" ...In honor of the many, many angels who have supported our vision, we are no longer “Teen Angel”, but rather, “Teen Angels”.

And then there's a beautiful letter from a teen who is making Teen Angels his special project at school this year: 

"As many of you may know Teen Angel has been helping many of our local teens celebrate Christmas for ten years. There is a strong need for this program. Many national programs only supply gifts targeting children and not teenagers. It’s difficult to realize just how many kids in my school worry about not having gifts for the holidays. Teen Angel not only supplies hope but a sense of security for years to come."