30 July 2011

Friendship

Whether it be friendship within marriage, or friendship in a more general sense, Fr. Barron has some great thoughts on the subject.

27 July 2011

Good question...


George Weigel asks (and answers) the question in this excellent article.  To read more about Bishop Ford, go here.

Why hasn’t Francis Ford been beatified?



CRACOW—In a 2010 interview with Catholic World Report, Cardinal Joseph Zen, S.D.B., the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, wondered aloud about the Catholic Church’s reticence to acknowledge those who had been martyred by Chinese communists during the Maoists’ rise to power, and thereafter. “Why should we not publicize … those martyrs?” Cardinal Zen asked. The truth demands it. Self-respect requires it. Today’s Chinese Catholics, especially those who are persecuted for the fidelity to the Bishop of Rome, would be strengthened by the example of brave witnesses who held firm until the end, Zen suggested.


I think Cardinal Zen is entirely right. One way to start filling in the blanks of China’s modern Catholic history would be to remember, and beatify, a martyred American missionary in China, Bishop Francis X. Ford, M.M.


Francis Ford, the first student to come to the new Maryknoll seminary when the order was founded in 1911, was one of the first four Maryknoll missioners to go to China. Ordained a bishop in 1935, he made a point of training a native clergy to whom he could eventually entrust his diocese. Before that could happen, Ford was arrested by the Chinese communist authorities and died in prison in 1952. Seven months after his death, Time described the drama of his last days, and elements of his heroic life, relying on the testimony of Ford’s secretary, Sister Joan Marie Ryan, M.M., who had been placed under house arrest after Bishop Ford had been arrested on false charges of espionage:


“(Bishop Ford) … though never tried, was … publicly paraded, beaten and degraded in some of the cities in which he had done mission work since 1918. In one town the mob which had gathered to beat him with sticks and stones became so fierce that Bishop Ford’s Communist guards fled in terror. Though knocked to the ground again and again, Bishop Ford did his best to walk calmly through the streets till the guards returned. In another town his neck was bound with a wet rope which almost choked him as it dried and shrank. Another rope was made to trail from under his gown like a tail. To humiliate them both, the (Communists) once forced him to undress before Sister Joan Marie. She caught a glimpse of Bishop Ford for the last time in February of this year (i.e., 1952), the month the (Communists) now say he died. His once dark hair was completely white, his body so emaciated that another prisoner was carrying him ‘like a sack of potatoes.’


“Bishop Ford had neither courted martyrdom nor shirked it. In first arriving in China, he uttered this prayer: ‘Lord, make us the doorstep by which the multitudes may come to worship Thee, and if … we are ground underfoot and spat upon and worn out, at least we … shall become the King’s Highway in pathless China.’ In 20 years, Francis Ford increased his flock from 9,000 to 20,000, built schools, hostels and churches. When World War II came, he stuck by his post, aiding Chinese guerillas, helping downed American airmen escape, relieving war refugees in distress.”


Several years ago, I inquired of the relevant authorities why there was no public beatification cause for this brave man, who should certainly be Blessed Francis Ford. It turned out that the cause had indeed been introduced, but that Roman concerns about offending the Chinese government—which, it will be remembered, pitched a fit when John Paul II canonized over 120 Chinese martyrs (all of whom had died before China’s communist period) during the Great Jubilee of 2000—had led to the process being put on hold.


Such reticence strikes me as a demeaning, self-inflicted wound to the Church’s mission. The evangelical future of the Catholic Church in China depends in no small part on the heroic resistance of today’s Chinese Catholics to governmental attempts to turn their local Church into a subsidiary of the Chinese communist state. Those Catholics need the encouragement of a witness like that given by Francis Xavier Ford, whose blood may yet prove to have paved the King’s Highway in the Middle Kingdom.

Believe it or not...

...we're getting close to the beginning of a new academic year!  The teachers and staff all begin the Inservice this coming Monday; then there are the various "Back to School" nights, with the first day of school being August 11th.

Details can be found here in the latest Crusader Bulletin.


26 July 2011

Ss. Joachim & Anne


Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

21 July 2011

St. Mary Magdalene


Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored St. Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

20 July 2011

An interesting study...

The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes
by Mary L. Gautier, Ph.D., Mark M. Gray, Ph.D.
July 18, 2011

The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes details the findings from the first phase of the study, a 2010 national survey of pastors and other parish leaders at 846 randomly selected U.S. parishes. In the last decade, the numbers of Catholic priests and Catholic parishes have declined in number, but the scale of parish life in the United States has expanded along with the nation’s growing Catholic population. Bigger parishes, more Masses, and ministries in languages other than English are becoming the norm.

Study Documents the ‘Supersizing’ the U.S. Catholic Parish Life

In the last decade, the numbers of Catholic priests and Catholic parishes have declined in number, but the scale of parish life in the United States has expanded along with the nation’s growing Catholic population. Bigger parishes, more Masses, and ministries in languages other than English are becoming the norm. This is one of many new findings from the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership project that just released the first report, The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes details the findings from the first phase of the study, a 2010 national survey of pastors and other parish leaders at 846 randomly selected U.S. parishes. The report is available at: http://www.emergingmodels.org/

The survey documents changes in parish life as the U.S. Catholic Church has downsized its number of parishes in recent years. In the last decade, through a combination of closing and mergers, U.S. Catholic Church leaders have reduced the number of parishes in the United States by 1,359 (a decline of 7.1 percent). In 2000, the Church had more than 19,000 parishes nationally and by decade’s end it had fewer than 17,800, almost the same number it had in 1965.

The survey shows that in the wake of these closures, the average number of registered households in U.S. parishes has grown to 1,168. A third of parishes now have more than 1,200 registered households. The percentage of parishes with 200 or fewer households dropped from 24 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2010. The survey results indicate that 40 percent of the increase in registered parishioners from 2005 to 2010 was among Hispanic/Latino(a) Catholics.

With more Catholics and fewer parishes, the number of Masses offered per parish has increased as well. Half of U.S. parishes celebrate four or more Sunday/Saturday Vigil Masses each week. Only one in ten parishes (10 percent) celebrate just one weekend Mass per week, while 28 percent celebrate five or more. The average number of weekend Masses per parish has increased from 3.5 in 2000 to 3.8 in 2010.

The average number of people attending Mass on a typical weekend at Catholic parishes is 1,110, up from an average of 966 in 2000. On average, these attenders represent 38 percent of registered parishioners and 47 percent of parish capacity (number of Masses multiplied by seating capacity). Smaller parishes have a higher proportion of parishioners attending Mass than larger parishes.

One in three parishes (29 percent) celebrates Mass at least once a month in a language other than English. This is an increase from 22 percent of parishes in 2000. Most of these Masses, 81 percent, are in Spanish. Overall, about 6 percent of Masses (weekday and weekend) are celebrated in Spanish in the United States.

Thirty-seven percent of parishes indicate that they have some special observance for particular cultural or ethnic groups in the parish. By far, the most common of these is a celebration for the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Twenty-one percent of all U.S. parishes indicate a special observance of this day. More than 6,700 U.S. parishes (38 percent) meet the study’s criteria for being considered as a multicultural parish.

In the average U.S. parish, the total operating revenue of about $695,000 exceeds expenses of $626,500. However, 30 percent of parishes indicate that their expenses exceed their revenue. Of those parishes reporting a deficit, the average size for the shortfall is 15.8 percent of revenue. Total weekly offertory is about $9,200 or $9.57 per registered household. Offertory has grown in the last five years, on average, by more than 14 percent in U.S. parishes. Smaller parishes generally collect more per registered household in offertory than larger parishes.

The total number of people on parish staffs in the United States is estimated to be 168,448. This total includes ministry staff and volunteers as well as non-ministry staff and volunteers (including parish bookkeepers, groundskeepers, cooks, etc.). The average parish has a total staff of 9.5 members with 5.4 individuals in ministry positions.

The estimated number of lay ecclesial ministers (lay persons paid in ministry for at least 20 hours per week) in the United States is approximately 38,000 (2.1 per parish). Fourteen percent of these are vowed religious and 86 percent are other lay persons. Overall, 80 percent are female and 20 percent male. Four in ten LEMs are under the age of 50. It is estimated that the U.S. Church is adding about 790 new lay ecclesial ministers to parish ministry staffs each year.

Growth in the number of lay ecclesial ministers is in part related to fewer priests available to serve in U.S. parishes. Although the average number of priestly ordinations in the U.S. has been about 500 per year over the last 25 years, there are fewer men being ordained than what is needed to replace an aging clergy population. The number of diocesan priests in the United States declined by 11 percent in the last decade and many more priests plan to retire in the next decade. The number of religious priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters is also declining. However, the number of permanent deacons is increasing. Together, the total number of clergy and vowed religious in the United States in 2010 was 117,080. By comparison this totaled 197,172 in 1980. This change represents a decline of 41 percent in the last two decades.

U.S. parishes are likely to continue to get bigger because the number of Catholics continues to grow and is expected to continue to do so in the future. Since the end of World War II, on average, 25 percent of the U.S. adult population has self-identified in national surveys as Catholic. In the last 40 years, the Catholic population has grown by about 75 percent to 77.7 million according to self-identification of religion in national surveys. Even by conservative estimates, there are likely to be more than 110 million U.S. Catholics by the middle of the century.

Although Mass attendance has declined since the 1950s, there has been no recent decline or increase in attendance in national surveys in the last decade and this study confirms this trend. If Mass attendance remains steady and the Catholic population grows as expected, the results of this study suggest demands will increase on parishes and parish staffs as the real number of Catholics attending and needing sacraments increases.

19 July 2011

Substituting...

This is what I usually drive:


On Sunday, I'll be driving this monster:




It isn't easy to find substitute organists during the summer, which is when most church musicians take their well-deserved vacations.  Mr. Murray was able to get one of his Sundays covered, but came up empty for this next Sunday.  That being the case, I'll limp into the breach and do my best at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses.  Thank goodness we have Fr. Moore on the staff, who will be celebrating those Masses while I'm at the other end of the church.  

Notice what I'll be playing for the prelude:


It's Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein (When we are in deepest need) from Bach's Orgelbüchlein.  Well chosen, don't you think?

Needless to say, we're all looking forward to Mr. Murray's return...

18 July 2011

Born again...


O merciful God, grant that like as Christ died and rose again,
so this Child may die to sin and rise to newness of life. Amen.


Fr. Hurd's new book...

Fr. Scott Hurd, who is assisting Cardinal Wuerl in getting things prepared for the establishment of the U. S. Ordinariate, has a new book coming out on September 1st.  It's titled Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach, and you can find out more by going here.

Also, Fr. Hurd has a great website (which is linked in the sidebar of this blog) containing a daily homily on the readings.  You can find that here.

17 July 2011

The Kingdom


More than anything else during His earthly ministry, Our Lord spoke of the "Kingdom," and it was this kingdom that He announced and established and spread.  There have been volumes written, and countless discourses given, in an attempt to explain exactly what this kingdom is, and it is a deep theological concept.  But it must also have a certain simplicity to it, for Christ to have placed such importance upon it.  Put in the most basic of terms, the "Kingdom of God" is wherever God's Divine Will is done.  The Kingdom of which Christ spoke, then, is both here-and-now as well as something in the future ("thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...); but most of all it is in the heart of man, where the Divine Will is discerned and acted upon.

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion, we beseech thee, upon our infirmities, and those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, mercifully give us for the worthiness of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

16 July 2011

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel


The Octave Day of the Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement is the day commemorating the appearance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to St. Simon Stock in Cambridge, England, 760 years ago today.

O God our Father, who didst adorn the Order of Mount Carmel with the special title of the most blessed Mother of thy Son, the ever-virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that as we remember her in our solemn observance, so by her intercession we may attain to everlasting joy; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

15 July 2011

Background: Anglicanorum coetibus


Over on The Anglo-Catholic, I posted a lengthy but fascinating account of the circumstances and events which led to Anglicanorum coetibus.  Presented by Dr. William Tighe at the 2011 Anglican Use Conference, you'll want to have a look at The Genesis of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

12 July 2011

Graymoor

We just celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Atonement, the title of the Blessed Virgin which began with the Society of the Atonement in Graymoor, Garrison, New York.  Here's a brief but interesting video which gives some glimpses and information about Graymoor.

11 July 2011

Pivotal Moments


I preached this sermon at the opening Solemn Evensong at the recent Anglican Use Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.


Acts 10:17-33


Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them." And Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?" And they said, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house, and to hear what you have to say." So he called them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went off with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesare'a. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his kinsmen and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man." And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered; and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me." And Cornelius said, "Four days ago, about this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer in my house; and behold, a man stood before me in bright apparel, saying, `Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the seaside.' So I sent to you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."

It is one of my pleasant duties, as a pastor with a parish school, to teach a scripture course to our high school students. The centerpiece of the course is a chapter by chapter study of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The drama of the early years in the Church’s history never fails to hold the attention of my students. As we work our way through Acts, we look for those “pivotal moments” – those individual and singular events which, from that moment, set the Church upon a particular path, and which frame our own experience as members of the Church. The Book of the Acts is filled with these exceptional moments, such as the account of which we heard in the First Lesson this evening.

Three men come to the house of Simon the tanner, where Peter was staying. They had been sent by the centurion, Cornelius. Now, God had been preparing Cornelius for a great destiny – Cornelius, the gentile, was being prepared to become part of the Church, which up until this point, was a preserve for Jews. In fact, not only was God preparing Cornelius, but He was also preparing Peter, who had lived as a Jew, but who at this point was beginning to understand that God’s plan was not going to include these rigid demarcations. God had given Peter the vision of a great sheet with animals on it being let down from heaven, and a voice told him to kill and eat, even though many of these animals would be considered unclean and therefore unfit for a Jew to eat. In his vision, Peter was shocked. He protested that he had never eaten anything that was unclean. The voice told him not to call what God had cleansed unclean.

There was a time when Peter would have called a Gentile unclean; but now God has prepared him for those visitors who were knocking on the door, sent by Cornelius, to beckon Peter to come to Caesarea, because Cornelius, too, had received a vision – to send for a man named Peter, and to listen to what he had to say. This was a pivotal moment – the Rock on which Christ was building His Church had come to understand that the Church would be tearing down those ancient boundaries between Jew and Gentile, in order to form the New Israel, a reconstituted Israel with a new understanding of what it is to be the Children of Abraham.

Cornelius called for Peter, and Peter responded. In so doing, God set the course for the Church. Barriers were broken down, and a new way of thinking began to unfold. At every pivotal moment in the Church’s history, Peter is there, the person of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, who carries the mission forward, keeping the Church ever ancient and ever new, as he’s doing now, in our own day. It’s sobering to think that we are part of something that will be read about and studied in the future. Perhaps it’s not as ground-breaking as Peter bringing the gentile Cornelius into the Church, but what Pope Benedict XVI, speaking as Peter today, is enacting through the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is providing one of those “pivotal moments” in the history of the Church. And even before this – to prepare for this moment – another successor of St. Peter, Pope John Paul II, had begun to incorporate our Patrimony into the Church through the Pastoral Provision and the Book of Divine Worship, and in so doing not only paved the way for the Ordinariates, but also allowed for a glimpse of what the future will be like in the Ordinariates. What do I mean?

It struck me one day, when I was offering one of the early weekday Masses. Of the forty-five or fifty people who were there, very few of them had grown up in an Episcopal or Anglican church. The majority of them had belonged our parish for the greater part of their lives. For them, the Collect for Purity is simply a Catholic prayer said at the beginning of the Mass; the Comfortable Words are part of a Catholic penitential rite; the Prayer of Humble Access is what Catholics say before receiving Holy Communion. They don't think of their liturgy as coming from “someplace else.” It’s just a Catholic liturgy. Of course, they've attended other Catholic parishes. They know our liturgy is different, and that our parish has a particular “feel.” But they’ve embraced and experienced the Anglican patrimony exclusively as Catholics, and in that way these second-generation Anglican Use Catholics probably have a clearer understanding of the patrimony as being a living and developing patrimony, than those of us who are first-generation converts. They haven’t had to attempt to live as Catholics outside the communion of the Catholic Church, and they’ve never gone through the mental gymnastics we had to endure, trying to put a Catholic spin on things, when so much of the evidence around us was contrary to what we believed about ourselves.

The little experiment that is the Anglican Use, local though it is, gives a glimpse of the future, because the Ordinariates will be doing all this on a grand scale – oh, probably not grand at the beginning, but when second-generation Ordinariate Catholics become the majority of our members, there will be a much deeper understanding of our Anglican patrimony, because it will have been experienced in the context of full communion with the Holy See.

Most of those heading toward an Ordinariate think in terms of what they'll be able to bring with them, and that's important. Our Lord said, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost,” and that applies to the various elements from our past. But the Lord also said, “Behold, I make all things new,” and that, too, applies to our patrimony. Within the Ordinariates, all the familiar things we love will be made new, for a new generation of Catholics. Our past is building the future.

When St. Peter opened the Church to Cornelius and his family, it was an occasion of historic importance, clarifying and incarnating Christ’s High Priestly prayer “that they all might be one.” Our Lord wasn’t expressing a vague hope when he prayed “Ut unum sint.” It was a divine command, and it appears that the Holy Father is taking it as a direct and personal order from Christ himself.

03 July 2011

A Prayer for our Nation


Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Thomas the Apostle


OMNIPOTENS sempiterne Deus, qui ad majorem confirmationem fidei sanctum Thomam Apostolum tuum de resurrectione Filii tui dubitare permisisti : Da nobis ita perfecte et sine ulla dubitatione credere in Filium tuum Jesum Christum, ut fides nostra coram te nunquam reprehendatur. Exaudi nos, Domine, per eundem Jesum Christum, cui tecum, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, sit omnis honor et gloria nunc et per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.


ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who, for the greater confirmation of the faith, didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son's resurrection; Grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ, that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved. Hear us, O Lord, through the same Jesus Christ, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for evermore. Amen.

02 July 2011

Immaculate Heart of Mary


Following upon the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, is our commemoration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Here's a prayer for consecrating ourselves to her motherly heart.


O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners; we consecrate ourselves to thy Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life: all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts, and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, and our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly blessing. And that this act of consecration may be truly fruitful and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our First Holy Communion.


We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics, who are submissive to all directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and of His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an important part of our lives, in so far as we are able to do.


Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the spreading of devotion to thy Immaculate Heart, in order to hasten and assure, through thy queenly rule, the coming of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son Jesus Christ, in our own country, and in all the world; as in Heaven, so on earth. Amen.

01 July 2011

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


Pictured above is the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is within Our Lady of the Atonement Church.  In this chapel we celebrate the early Mass each weekday; in it is the columbarium where our departed loved ones are interred; here we have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for forty-eight continuous hours each weekend.  And today, in the chapel dedicated to the loving and pierced Heart of our Lord, we began the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement, joining our personal intentions to the general intention of this year's novena -- for the establishment of the U.S. Ordinariate.

O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love: Grant that the devout homage of our hearts, which we render unto Him; may by thy mercy be deemed a recompense, acceptable in thy sight; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.