26 September 2014

Another day of parish life...

"The Scholar"
Carved door of the credence cabinet at the high altar.
Our Lady of the Atonement Church.

It's a quiet Friday at the parish, in that the students aren't here.  But it's busy with the sound of parents coming in and going out because today is the day for parent-teacher conferences.  Our experienced teachers look forward to these meetings, with the opportunity to reaffirm the important relationship between home and school, between family and teacher.  Some of the new teachers are a little nervous, understandably.  What they had been so recently studying in their college classes is now being tested in the real-life world of actually teaching children and relating to parents.  No more theory - the rubber has well and truly met the road!

They'd been given the necessary fuel, however.  Before conferences began, the teachers gathered for Mass, along with many other parishioners.  It was a beautiful celebration in Latin, with simple chant.  I spoke to them about today's saints, the twin brothers Cosmas and Damian, and how we venerate them, not only as great witnesses to the Catholic faith, but as men who took seriously the gifts God had given them in their practice of medicine.  In so many ways the lives of these martyrs serve also as a reminder of what we're trying to form in our students - a knowledge and love of God, along with a desire to discern how they can live out the vocation to holiness using the gifts they have been given.

It's a beautiful thing, to impart a Catholic education in the context of a full parish life.  It's always seemed to me that this is how it should be, and that this is evangelization in one of its best and highest forms.

23 September 2014

The Early History of the Anglican Use


Fr. Jack Barker wrote a brief but important history of the Anglican Use some time ago.  Those who are members of Anglican Use or Ordinariate parishes and communities will be particularly interested in this account of those "early days" of the movement which continues to bring so many of the Faithful from Anglicanism into full Catholic communion.

You can read the document by going to this link.

22 September 2014

St. Pio of Pietrelcina


St. Pio was born in 1887 in Pietrelcina, a town in southern Italy. His family were farmers, and his father worked also as a shepherd to support the family. In fact, when St. Pio was a boy his father was gone for periods of time because he had come to America looking for work, sending money back to his family. When St. Pio was 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars and made his first vows when he was 19. He suffered several health problems, but he was eventually ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910, and was known after that as Padre Pio.

He had been a priest for about eight years. One morning he was praying before a crucifix, when he received the stigmata. He is the first priest ever to receive this outward mark of union with Christ Crucified – St. Francis of Assisi was a deacon. In fact, because this became a source of curiosity for so many people, Padre Pio was forbidden from having any public ministry for some years, even having to say Mass privately. This was a tremendous burden for him, but he accepted it in complete obedience to his superiors. But as word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch, although he himself never understood or emphasized these gifts.

People always seem to be most fascinated with these dramatic gifts, but the foundation of St. Pio’s life was his total love for Jesus, especially in the Blessed Sacrament, and his life of prayer for others, especially prayer for healing – both spiritual and physical healing. In fact, in 1956 he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital that today serves about 60,000 patients a year.

St. Pio died in 1968, and people continued to report many miracles and healings that had come through his intercession. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1999, and then in 2002 he was canonized in the presence of more than 300,000 people who gathered in Rome for the Mass.
O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant St. Pio of Pietrelcina, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

18 September 2014

A Pilgrimage to Spain and France


Our Lady of the Atonement Church has arranged a magnificent pilgrimage to Spain and France, leaving on January 5th 2015, and returning on January 16th 2015.  We will fly first to Madrid, after which we will be visiting Avila, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, León, Burgos, and Loyola.  Crossing into France we will be visiting Toulouse, and then on to the great Marian Shrine of Lourdes.  After visiting Carcassonne we return to Spain, visiting Barcelona and Montserrat.  After a visit to Zaragoza, we return to Madrid for our flight home.


Go to this link to download a complete description of our pilgrimage destinations and other details about the pilgrimage.  We will be celebrating the Mass (Anglican Use) daily, praying in places made holy by countless generations of pilgrims who have gone before us.

15 September 2014

Generous words about the parish...


Almost everyone likes to hear kind and generous words...especially when they're about oneself!

Mr. Jeff Ostrowski, who does such magnificent work for the Church through Corpus Christi Watershed, visited our parish with his family this past Sunday.

You can read his assessment of the experience on his blog, Views from the Choir Loft: Reflections on Sacred Music & the Roman Liturgy.

The Atonement Academy: A School of Excellence


THE ATONEMENT ACADEMY: AN AWARD-WINNING SCHOOL...AGAIN!

The Atonement Academy College Preparatory School has been named to the School of Excellence Honor Roll — a distinction held by only five other schools in Texas — and one of two Catholic high schools in San Antonio to earn the prestigious award this year. Since 2001, the Honor Roll has recognized excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education at Catholic high schools across the United States. The Atonement Academy won the award in 2008, and again in 2012.

The Cardinal Newman Society announced the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence in a news release this morning.  Since 2004 the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States, and Honor Roll schools receiving this designation are marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics. This year seventy-one schools received the honor of being named as a School of Excellence, and an additional nine received the distinction of Honorable Mention.

Academy headmaster Walter Spencer remarked, “We are humbled as well as privileged to be in this group of less than five percent of the Catholic high schools in the United States.  This recognition underscores our efforts to maintain our Catholic identity as well as to carry on the tradition of rigorous Catholic education. We are grateful to our students for helping us achieve this honor and to their parents, who make many sacrifices to keep Catholic education a priority for their families.”

“Since competition began in 2004, the Honor Roll has been a helpful tool for administrators, families, and benefactors in recognizing the quality of a Catholic high school education,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day—not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity—and we are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year.”

This year’s Honor Roll schools are diverse: large and small, new and long-established, highly selective and those with open enrollment admissions policies, as well as a variety of tuition rates. The common trait is an institutional commitment to providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.

The Atonement Academy has an enrollment of 572 students in grades PreK-4 through 12 and was founded in 1994.  The high school was added in 2005. With a mission to “strive for excellence in the physical, the intellectual, and the spiritual virtues through a challenging course of classical and Catholic education,” the school builds into every student’s routine daily Mass, rigorous academics, and opportunities for participation in sports and a variety of extracurricular activities. The Academy is the parish school of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, founded in the Archdiocese of San Antonio in 1983. The pastor is Father Christopher G. Phillips and the academy headmaster is Mr. Walter Spencer.

Mr. Walter Spencer, Headmaster,
announces the award to the Upper School students.



14 September 2014

Mater Dolorosa


The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(One Our Father, Seven Hail Marys, while meditating on each Sorrow.)

The Prophecy of Simeon concerning the Infant Jesus. (St. Luke 2:34)
The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (St. Matthew 2:13)
The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (St. Luke 2:43)
The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way to Calvary. (St. Luke 23:26)
The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (St. John 19:25)
The Descent from the Cross, with Jesus placed in Mary's arms. (St. Matthew 27:57)
The Burial of Jesus. (St. John 19:40)

O God, who didst will that in the passion of thy Son a sword of grief should pierce the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary his Mother: Mercifully grant that thy Church, having shared with her in his passion, may be made worthy to share in the joys of his resurrection; 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.

Litany of the Holy Cross


Relic of the True Cross, Our Lady of the Atonement Church


Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy upon us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy upon us.
God the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy upon us.

Christ Jesus, laden with the Cross and led to Calvary, Have mercy upon us.
Christ Jesus, nailed to the Cross, Have mercy upon us.
Christ Jesus, raised up on the Cross, Have mercy upon us.
Christ Jesus, obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross, Have mercy upon us.
Christ Jesus, bearing our sins in thine own Body on the Tree, Have mercy upon us.
Christ Jesus, by whose stripes we are healed, Have mercy upon us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat, Good Lord, deliver us.
By thy buffetings and stripes, Good Lord, deliver us.
By thy Crown of Thorns, Good Lord, deliver us.
By thy Cross and Passion, Good Lord, deliver us.
By the anguish of thy Sacred Heart upon the Cross, Good Lord, deliver us.
By thy most precious Death, Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, that we may die unto sin and live unto righteousness,
We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord.
That we may take up our cross daily and follow thee,
We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord.
That we may perfectly know thee, the Crucified,
We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord.
That we may never crucify thee afresh,
We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord.
That being made partakers of thy sufferings, we may share also in thy consolations,
We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy upon us.


Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, our merciful High Priest, who on the Cross didst offer to the Father a pure offering, to reconcile sinners unto God by the infinite merits of thy Life, thy Passion and thy Death; give us grace, we beseech thee, to die to the world, and live to thee alone, and finally depart in peace, through thy merits; who livest and reignest ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

08 September 2014

Mass of Our Lady's Nativity

This is the Sung Mass, celebrated at The Atonement Academy, on September 8th. Annually on this feast day the Academy teachers make their Oath of Fidelity, promising to live according to the doctrine and discipline of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and to exercise the apostolate of teaching in conformity with the revealed Truth, and in union with the universal Church.


07 September 2014

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


"The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy." – St. John Damascene
The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated as a universal liturgical feast at least from the sixth century. Its origin can be traced to the occasion of the consecration of a church in Jerusalem just inside St. Stephen’s Gate, near the Pool of Bethesda — a church built on the traditional site of the house of Ss. Joachim and Anne. There they lived as husband and wife. Their love for God and for each other brought them the precious gift of their daughter, Mary. From the earliest years, the Church venerated the place where Mary was born, and the liturgical remembrance began to spread beyond Jerusalem. Within a few years it was celebrated in Rome, having been introduced by monks from the East, and the celebration included a procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Although the actual date of Mary’s birth isn’t known, the Church settled on September 8th, and the celebration Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception was fixed on December 8th, as the date corresponding to nine months before the celebration of her Nativity. The two feasts commemorating Mary's conception and her birth can be seen as forming a kind of bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. With the conception and birth of the Blessed Virgin, God completed the new Ark – the living Temple – in which He would dwell. Because of that there is no more need for the old Temple, and through Mary, Jesus the Incarnate God has come to us to incorporate us into the New Israel.
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour into our hearts the abundance of thy heavenly grace; that, like as the child bearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary was unto us thy servants the beginning of salvation, so the devout observance of her Nativity may avail for the increase of our peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

01 September 2014

"I am God's wheat, ground fine..."


"No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God."

- St. Ignatius of Antioch, c.107

Bishop Gracida, still going strong!


Bishop René Henry Gracida is ninety-one years old, looks twenty years younger than that, and speaks out with the enthusiasm of a newly-ordained priest. He is unashamedly Catholic, unflinchingly pro-life, and doesn't hesitate to step on episcopal toes. His life as a war-time pilot, a Benedictine monk, a parish priest, and an outspoken bishop should be the stuff of books and movies, and I have enjoyed knowing him for nearly thirty years.

Bishop Gracida, now Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese Corpus Christi, has written down some of the highlights of his remarkable life in a series of posts which appear on his blog, Abyssus Abyssum Invocat/Deep Calls To Deep. I have assembled them in one place and in chronological order.

You can read them at this link.