30 December 2008

Spoken in silence...

From the Introit for the Day:

While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her swift course, thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne.

-Wisdom 18:14-15a

The image of the Almighty God sending out His Incarnate Word while all of creation was in silence is a powerful picture. It has a sense of timelessness, and yet it is an actual event. Rather than coming with fanfare and loud announcements, God chose a quiet way. And too, there is a link with the description found in St. John’s Book of the Revelation, chapter 8, verse 1, where he writes, “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” This silence marks the awe which comes before the great blasts of the trumpets which will follow. St. John tells us that while it is still silent, an angel comes and stands at the altar of incense with a golden censor, reminding us of the priest Zachariah, who received God’s revelation about the Forerunner while offering incense. The silence took place just before the great battle was to begin, linking it to the “quiet silence” in the Book of Wisdom, that silence in which the Lord and Conqueror chose to come.

29 December 2008

The martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket

From the Golden Legend.

“…Then one of the knights smote him as he kneeled before the altar on the head. And one Sir Edward Grim, that was his crossier put forth his arm with the cross to bear off the stroke, and the stroke smote the cross asunder and his arm almost off, wherefore he fled for fear, and so did all the monks, that were that time at compline. And then smote each at him, that they smote off a great piece of the skull of his head, that his brain fell on the pavement. And so they slew and martyred him, and were so cruel that one of them brake the point of his sword against the pavement. And thus this holy and blessed Archbishop S. Thomas suffered death in his own church for the right of all holy church. And when he was dead they stirred his brain, and after went in to his chamber and took away his goods, and his horse out of his stable, and took away his bulls and writings, and delivered them to Sir Robert Broke to bear into France to the king. And as they searched his chamber they found in a chest two shirts of hair made full of great knots, and then they said: Certainly he was a good man; and coming down into the churchward they began to dread and fear that the ground would not have borne them, and were marvellously aghast, but they supposed that the earth would have swallowed them all quick. And then they knew that they had done amiss. And anon it was known all about, how that he was martyred, and anon after took this holy body, and unclothed him, and found bishop's clothing above, and the habit of a monk under. And next his flesh he wore hard hair, full of knots, which was his shirt. And his breech was of the same, and the knots slicked fast within the skin, and all his body full of worms; he suffered great pain. And he was thus martyred the year of our Lord one thousand one hundred and seventy-one, and was fifty-three years old…”

Update: Here's the complete entry about St. Thomas from the Golden Legend.

"God stoops down..."

"Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?" This is what Israel sings in one of the Psalms, praising God's grandeur as well as his loving closeness to humanity. God dwells on high, yet he stoops down to us! God is infinitely great, and far, far above us. This is our first experience of him. The distance seems infinite. The Creator of the universe, the one who guides all things, is very far from us: or so he seems at the beginning. But then comes the surprising realization: The One who has no equal, who "is seated on high", looks down upon us. He stoops down. He sees us, and he sees me. God's looking down is much more than simply seeing from above. God's looking is active. The fact that he sees me, that he looks at me, transforms me and the world around me. The Psalm tells us this in the following verse: "He raises the poor from the dust." In looking down, he raises me up, he takes me gently by the hand and helps me to rise from depths towards the heights. "God stoops down". This is a prophetic word. That night in Bethlehem, it took on a completely new meaning. God's stooping down became real in a way previously inconceivable. He stoops down: he himself comes down as a child to the lowly stable, the symbol of all humanity's neediness and forsakenness. God truly comes down. He becomes a child and puts himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child. The Creator who holds all things in his hands, on whom we all depend, makes himself small and in need of human love. God is in the stable.

- Pope Benedict XVI, Midnight Mass 2008

25 December 2008

The Solemn Proclamation of Christmas

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the year five-thousand one-hundred and ninety-nine from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;
In the year two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty-seven from the flood;
In the year two-thousand and fifty-one from the birth of Abraham;
In the year one-thousand five-hundred and ten from the going forth of the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses;
In the year one-thousand and thirty-two from the anointing of David as king;
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
In the one-hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
In the year seven-hundred and fifty-two from the foundation of the city of Rome;
In the forty-second year of the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus;
In the sixth age of the world, while the whole earth was at peace —
Eternal God and the Son of the eternal Father, willing to consecrate the world by His gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and the nine months of His conception being now accomplished, was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, made man.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh.

22 December 2008

Eagerly anticipating...

I know it's still Advent, but I'm a push-over for the unashamedly sentimental things of Christmas...

At the other end of the building...

Recently I had the opportunity to move from my usual place in the sanctuary, back to the organ loft. Our students presented their magnificent Christmas concert of sacred music, and to save Mr. Murray from having to run back and forth from the front, he asked if I would be willing to play the organ for the congregational singing of the Christmas carols.

It really was great fun, and I enjoyed being "back on the bench" for a little while. As a young college student, I had begun my degree in music, majoring in organ performance and minoring in voice. After a year, I came to realize that my vocation was leading me to eventual ordination and so changed my concentration to Biblical studies and philosophy. But I never lost my love for music, and although I don't have the time anymore for any serious practice, I do enjoy catching a few moments now and then to sit at the organ and attempt to re-live my youth!

Although this picture doesn't show the big smile on my face, I had a great time "pulling out all the stops," so to speak.

Mass schedule

Mass schedule for the
Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Christmas Eve

Vigil Mass at 5:00 p.m.

Midnight Mass begins with music at 11:00 p.m., followed by the Solemn Proclamation of Christmas and Mass at 11:30 p.m.

Christmas Day

Low Mass at 8:00 a.m.

Sung Mass at 10:00 a.m.

18 December 2008

Leaving the nest...

Some of the students graduating from our parish school this year have begun to get responses for admission to colleges and universities. We're proud that two of our seniors -- Danny Cruse and Brittany Weems -- have been accepted by the University of Notre Dame, and James Galindo has been awarded a place at the U. S. Naval Academy.

Well done!

17 December 2008

The Great O Antiphons

Today is the first day of Late Advent, and we begin the great “O Antiphons,” which lead up to the Vigil of the Nativity. Each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, and they are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah.

The order of the antiphons isn't accidental. If we work backwards, beginning with the last title and take the first letter of each antiphon -- Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia -- the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” The Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and to whom we refer in these seven Messianic titles, tells us: “Tomorrow, I will come.”

16 December 2008

It's a miracle!

With the news that 2008 will go on record as the coldest year in a decade, it can be officially declared: our prophet/president-elect has accomplished his first miracle. He has stopped global warming, even before his inauguration. We can only guess what wonders are to come...

15 December 2008

And then there were six...

The community of our original five Poor Clares has grown! Sr. Maria Magdalena has moved from the Shrine in Hanceville, and has taken up residence here.

Pictured above are (left to right): Sister Grace Marie, Sister Mary Peter, Sister Rose Marie, Sister Elizabeth Marie, Sister Maria Magdalena, and Sister Marie St. Clare.

You can see our three spires in the background. The Sisters enjoy living just across the street from the church and school, and we certainly love having them take part in parish life.

13 December 2008

A great day...

What a great day we had yesterday, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Of course, it's always wonderful to start the day with the beautiful and quiet 7:00 a.m. Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel. Then it was on to the glorious Sung Mass with the students at 9:15 a.m. Incense was hanging in the air, the music was gorgeous, and we had lots of visitors -- many of them families who had come to take a tour of the school with the intention of enrolling their students. During the homily I enjoyed telling the children about the miraculous tilma of St. Juan Diego, and I think several of them had their interest piqued enough to want to explore more about it on their own. In the afternoon all the students gathered again in the church for Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a beautiful way to honor Our Lady.

All throughout yesterday I received birthday cards and greetings from all the classes (today, St. Lucy's Day, is my 59th birthday), and to top it off, our varsity basketball team won last night's game! Altogether, a super day -- thanks be to God!

08 December 2008

Good advice from a great Cardinal...

On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, some excellent guidance...

02 December 2008

That marvellous Anglican chant...

A particularly beautiful way of singing the Psalms is when they are set to Anglican chant. We use this form of psalmnody frequently at the parish, and it's always a joy to participate in this style of chanting. Based upon the earlier practice of plainsong, Anglican chant provides a way of singing non-metrical verse using four-part harmony, and it's common to hear it in Anglican cathedrals and parishes with a strong liturgical music program.

Here's a fine example sung by the King's College Choir:

When I was a young theological student studying at Sarum in England, my buddies and I heard the wonderfully funny rendition done by the Master Singers, setting a weather report to Anglican chant:

After hearing that, some of us would have contests to see who could come up with the most bizarre concoction, so one was liable to hear the local police blotter, or portions of C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" sung to Anglican chant. Ah, those carefree student days!

Here's one more from the Master Singers:

01 December 2008

"Before the throne of grace..."

As is our tradition each year on the First Sunday of Advent, we chanted the Great Litany in procession, which was followed by the Exhortation:

Beloved in the Lord: Our Savior Christ, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood as a sign and pledge of his love, for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, and for a spiritual sharing in his risen life. For in these holy Mysteries we are made one with Christ, and Christ with us; we are made one body in him, and members one of another.

Having in mind, therefore, his great love for us, and in obedience to his command, his Church renders to Almighty God our heavenly Father never-ending thanks for the creation of the world, for his continual providence over us, for his love for all mankind, and for the redemption of the world by our Savior Christ, who took upon himself our flesh, and humbled himself even to death on the cross, that he might make us the children of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and exalt us to everlasting life.

But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup.

For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord’s Body. Judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.

Examine your lives and conduct by the rule of God’s commandments, that you may perceive wherein you have offended in what you have done or left undone, whether in thought, word, or deed. And acknowledge your sins before Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life, being ready to make restitution for all injuries and wrongs done by you to others; and also being ready to forgive those who have offended you, in order that you yourselves may be forgiven. And then, being reconciled with one another, come to the banquet of that most heavenly Food.

To Christ our Lord who loves us, and washed us in his own blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory in the Church evermore. Through him let us offer continually the sacrifice of praise, which is our bounden duty and service, and, with faith in him, come boldly before the throne of grace and humbly confess our sins to Almighty God.

28 November 2008

An eye-opening truth...

What is it that Margaret Thatcher inadvertently and mistakenly supported, was embraced by the kooky left-wingers, has sucked lots of ordinary people and many of our leaders in, and keeps a huge part of the world's population in grinding poverty?

If you've got an hour or so, have a look at this video. It's worth the investment of your time.

27 November 2008

A blessed Thanksgiving to you...

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

- Katharine Lee Bates, (1859-1929)

22 November 2008

Wisdom from a wise man...

C. S. Lewis died on 22 November 1963. Here are a few gems from his writings:

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith, but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

21 November 2008

What a bunch of turkeys!

How do reporters think turkeys arrive on our Thanksgiving tables all nice and delectable?

They're beside themselves with shock because Sarah Palin did the usual schtick in "pardoning a turkey," but in the background they were "actually slaughtering turkeys!!!" Here's an example of the kind of story I'm talking about.

The best response to this was sent to National Review via e-mail: "She should tell the media that she apologizes and she'll do her next interview inside an abortion clinic."

19 November 2008

Oh, for leaders like this again...

On 19 November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the truly great orations in all of history. I thought it would be good to read the Gettysburg Address again, on this its anniversary day.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Such an honor...

Ok, for me this was a real tear-jerker. Last Saturday evening we had a beautiful event which was a fund-raiser for the school, and a very nice night out. When my family and I arrived, it was great to see so many from the parish gathered together for what I thought was just a social evening. Little did I know there was more. I looked on the program and saw something called "Presentation of the Crusader Award." I thought it was some sort of sports presentation, because our teams are all called the Crusaders. It seemed an odd time to make a sports award, but I hadn't organized the evening, so thought no more about it. When I time came, I began to realize there was going to be a presentation to me. And there was... a very moving one. Included as part of the giving of the award was this short video. It meant a lot to me, and I wanted to share it with you.

God is so good.

New website for Pro-life activities

Go here to have a look at an excellent website for Pro-Life activities in San Antonio and Bexar County.

15 November 2008

The media: true to form

Once again, the media have done a number on the Church, in the person of a fine and faithful priest, Fr. Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Fr. Newman carried out his responsibility to teach clearly what the Church tells us about cooperating with evil, and the consequences of such an action. Predictably, his words were twisted beyond recognition. Here’s a sample of how the press wrote the story.

In the aftermath, Fr. Newman wrote the following two letters, and they will be distributed to his parishioners through his parish bulletin. Somehow I doubt the media will be interested, since they already have their headline.

First, this one...

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week I wrote a column for our Sunday bulletin just as I have done every week for the past seven years, and when I wrote it, I had no thought that it would be read by anyone other than parishioners of St. Mary’s or out of the context of everything that has been taught and preached here, from the pulpit or in writing, over these seven years. And yet that was precisely the result of the distortion of my words by the Associated Press. For an in depth explanation of what I wrote and what I did not write, please see the bulletin insert today which begins “Priest: No Communion for Obama Voters.”

Of course, I said nothing of the kind and explained very carefully and in writing to both the Greenville News and the Associated Press that “I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices.” Nevertheless, the AP story was written to create the false impression that I intended to deny Holy Communion to those who voted for Senator Obama; I did not.

My bulletin column last week was exactly 542 words—a space in which no comprehensive description could be offered of an enormously complex subject. That is why what I wrote last week has to be read in light of the teaching of the American bishops on “Faithful Citizenship” which was distributed in the bulletin the week before the election and explained from the pulpit. From that document and the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, no one could conclude that a vote for Senator Obama is in itself or by itself a mortal sin. But from that same teaching, though, we must conclude that a vote for a pro-abortion candidate can be a mortal sin if the intent is to support abortion, that abortion is not merely one issue among other important issues, and that no Catholic should endorse a pro-abortion politician if a plausible pro-life alternative is available. I regret that I did not take time last week to parse out every stipulation of the Church’s teaching, because the failure to do so allowed those who oppose that teaching to ridicule it by falsely asserting that I intended to deny Holy Communion to anyone who voted for the president-elect or that I presumed to know or judge their conscience. Again, for a fuller discussion of these issues, please see today’s bulletin insert.

As I write these words, I have received over 3,500 emails from around the world. Most of the people who wrote seem to regard me as either a mighty champion of reform or an evil tool of the devil, and I am naturally hesitant to accept either title. In truth, I am but a useless servant of the Lord Jesus trying, despite my frailty, to be a faithful witness to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I hope that everyone who reads these words will study what the Church teaches about freedom of conscience, political responsibility, and the absolute sanctity of human life. As I explain in the introduction to the Principles of Evangelical Catholicism which guide pastoral practice at St. Mary’s, everything about us must be measured and guided by the Gospel: our thoughts, words, actions, bodies, relationships, spending habits, political convictions, lifestyle choices, and business decisions. But this total surrender to Christ and His Gospel is not a restriction of our freedom; in fact, it is the beginning of authentic discipleship and the only path to evangelical liberty.

...and the second one:

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Priest: No Communion for Obama Voters”

That, or something like it, was the headline on every English-speaking news service in the world by Friday morning, and although it does grab one’s attention, it is also utterly false.

Last Wednesday morning I received five written questions about last week’s bulletin column from the Greenville News, and I answered those questions in writing. The third question asked “Are you saying that you’ll administer a no-communion policy unless Obama voters partake in penance?” Here is my answer:

“I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices, even as I continue to teach what the Church teaches about the necessity of being in full, visible communion with the Church before receiving the sacraments. Only those who believe what the Catholic Church teaches and who seek to live according to that teaching should even be interested in receiving the sacraments of the Church, and on the question of the intrinsic and grave evil of abortion, there is and can be no doubt about what the Church teaches.”

When a reporter from the AP called to ask about the story which appeared in the Greenville News, I forwarded my written answers to her and verified by email that she received them. So, the AP knew that I stated categorically that “I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices,” and yet it was on the basis of the slant in the AP story that the world was then told that my position is “No Communion for Obama Voters.”

I insisted on receiving and answering the original questions in writing precisely because I knew that this might turn into a very ugly brawl designed to make me look like a raving lunatic seeking to coerce voters through spiritual blackmail rather than a shepherd warning his flock about the spiritual danger of supporting abortion, whether directly or indirectly. And my suspicion proved well-founded. So, now that I have clarified what I did not say, allow me to summarize what I did say in my main points last week:

1) Since Roe v. Wade abortion has been the chief battleground in the ongoing “Culture War” over how to order our common life together. 2) Although the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil which no Catholic can ever support without damaging his or her communion with the Church, the majority of self-identified Catholics voted for the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to run for president. 3) This majority vote, however, changes dramatically when practicing Catholics and lapsed Catholics are considered separately. 4) Whatever we think of his position on abortion, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States, and we are bound by religious duty to respect his office, to cooperate with his leadership unless obliged by conscience not to, and to pray for him and the effectiveness of his service to the nation.

To those four points in my column, no one objected. And the last point--our duty to respect, cooperate with, and pray for the new president--almost no one mentioned in the multiple press reports. The two points which have received a great deal of attention are: 1) I addressed the president-elect by his full name (Barack Hussein Obama), with the implication that this was a sneer intended to arouse contempt, and 2) I say that those Catholics who vote for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists have cooperated in evil and should not receive Holy Communion until they have received the Sacrament of Penance. Allow me to respond to the criticism I have received on both points.

1) Where I come from, addressing a man by his full name is a mark of respect and the most dignified way of speaking of someone—particularly when he is named for someone else. That is why, for example I have always used my full name in public even though I am called only by my middle name among family and friends: my first name was given as a tribute to a beloved great uncle, and I honor him every time I use my full name. For me to speak of the president-elect as Barack Hussein Obama was not intended as a sneer or an invitation to contempt; it was, rather, a mark of respect for a man I described in my column as “extraordinarily gifted.”

2) I wrote last week that “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of full communion with Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

Please note what I did not say: a) I did not endorse any candidate or party. b) I did not make myself or any human authority the judge of an individual’s conscience; that task belongs alone to Almighty God through His divinely revealed law. c) I did not presume to know or determine for others what constitutes being a “plausible pro-life alternative” to a pro-abortion politician; I asserted only that there can be such.

What I intended to say was this: a) Any Catholic who endorses or supports the intrinsic evil of abortion has, by that fact, placed himself or herself outside of full communion with the Catholic Church and should not receive Holy Communion before being reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance. b) It is possible to be guilty of supporting abortion by voting for a politician who pledges to support abortion if that is the voter’s intention and it is possible instead to vote for another “plausible candidate” who opposes abortion. I deliberately left unaddressed what constitutes being a plausible alternative candidate because there is no way for a general principle to anticipate and include every possibility of nuance and judgment in the evaluation of candidates in a given election. It is in making this judgment that all voters, including Catholics, must exercise their personal liberty and follow a conscience informed by right reason and objective truth. But the very reason the Lord Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Penance is that we all too often act contrary to the law of God and the voice of our conscience.

In making these points, I have not attempted to give my private opinions about anything; rather, I have sought to reflect faithfully the moral teaching and sacramental discipline of the Catholic Church, and if I have erred in that task by omission or commission, I look forward to being corrected by lawful authority in the Church. As I have written today in my bulletin column, there was no way in last week’s 542 words to explain fully a matter of extraordinary complexity, and what I wrote before must be in the context of everything the Church teaches on these questions. I hope that this clarification will serve to assure our parish and those who read about this matter that no infringement of political liberty or individual conscience was my intent.

Father Jay Scott Newman
Pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

UPDATE: Apparently it's not just the media. Go here to see what the administrator of Father Newman's own diocese has done!

11 November 2008

Latin Mass - Ordinary Form

Here are six video clips showing the complete Assumption Day Mass at the academy with all of our students. The Mass is celebrated in Latin, according to the Ordinary Form. It was filmed by a couple of our young men in the Upper School.

Well done, Girl Scouts!

We're very proud of our girls in Troop #810. Go here to find out why!

We honor those who served...

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

10 November 2008

Boy oh boy, we're good...

Ok, that's not very humble. But we've received some wonderful news. The Acton Institute has announced a list of the fifty best high schools in the nation, and guess what? The Atonement Academy is one of them!

A new deacon...

This past Saturday I was at the cathedral in Corpus Christi for the ordination of Michael Noble to the diaconate. Deacon Noble is a founding member of the Anglican Use Community of St. Anselm there, and he will be dividing his time between that community and another Catholic parish nearby.

We took this picture just before the Mass began. Shown here, left to right, are Deacon James Orr (Our Lady of the Atonement), me, Fr. Allan Hawkins (St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington), Michael Noble, Fr. Eric Bergman (St. Thomas More, Scranton) and Deacon James Barnett (Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston).

08 November 2008

Belated posting of pictures...

I meant to post these pictures sooner... some images from All Souls Day.

05 November 2008

All over but the shouting...

So the voting's over and we have a president-elect. Some are dancing in the streets and others are nursing a dull depression. Most everybody is smarter than I am when it comes to foretelling the political ramifications of it all, so I won't even try.

For myself, I am immensely sad because of what this will almost certainly mean for the unborn. I believe that our country -- for better or for worse -- probably got the leader it deserves. But innocent babies don't deserve this, and we've got to redouble our work on their behalf because they didn't vote for this. And I'm going to pray daily for President Obama's conversion to a right understanding of the sanctity of life from the moment of conception. If he could only get that right, an awful lot of other issues would fall into their proper place.

I was reading the National Review today, and saw this in a column by Jim Garaghty. He was writing about the protection of our nation from terrorism, but it sums up my feeling about the pro-life issue during the next four years: "A citizen's 401(k) can eventually return to its former value. A life, once lost, cannot be replaced."

31 October 2008

"Spreadin' the wealth around..."

...our real wealth, that is. Namely, our fantastic students. The archbishop needed some altar servers and a choir for a Mass he was celebrating for a conference here in San Antonio, and we were happy to oblige by sending several of our young men, and the sixth grade girls' choir, to the Motherhouse Chapel at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Important words from our archbishop...

We cannot ignore the life issues.

Column published in the San Antonio Express News-Oct. 29, 2008

With the economic crisis darkening the political horizon, the past month has left little room for other issues to penetrate the minds of Americans as we prepare to vote in the upcoming election. Certainly the economy deserves our serious consideration, along with such important issues as war, healthcare and immigration.

It is troubling, though, that there has also been a critical absence of issues central to the preservation of life and the family from the public arena. It would seem to infer that these issues have no impact on voter’s selection process or that they are simply not important. Regardless which side of these issues a person falls, these are defining principles for any society.

Recently, the Express-News published its voter’s guide. It was a comprehensive listing of races and candidates running for office in November. I’m sure it was a helpful tool for many. I recognize it is challenging to make any voter’s guide comprehensive on the issues. However, the inclusion of the fundamental life issues for pursuit of the common good would have made the publication more complete, accurate and a useful tool at this critical time.

People need to know the positions of the candidates on the key issues that protect the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and capital punishment. Voters also would have been better served if they had been provided information about the candidates’ positions on the definition of marriage, the basic cell of society as a union between a man and a woman.

The “culture of life” issues, and I include in that the preservation of the very foundational definition of the human family, often are dismissed as purely religious issues. This characterization is inaccurate. These issues deal with the most fundamental concerns of human civilization. The strong moral teaching at the foundation of these issues does not disqualify them from deserving serious public discussion, nor deny the impact they have on the common good.

I find it unfortunate that often, when an individual raises abortion as a critical issue, there is a fear that they will be quickly labeled a “one issue” voter. While this characterization might protect one from confronting the moral gravity of taking an innocent, defenseless, human life, it also avoids the reality that abortion is an issue that affects all segments of our society. It represents the primary right guaranteed in our Declaration of Independence—the right to life. Unless we protect this fundamental right of each human person, at all stages of life, no other issue or liberty matters.

Surely, many form their conclusions on these and other issues through a process guided by faith. However, society should not insist that people of faith be silent in the face of grave evil. We live in a society that would like to privatize religion, to take it out of the public square. Privatizing religion would be for all people of faith, an unholy compromise. We who profess to believe in God cannot allow him to be banished from the public square.

It is never my purpose, nor the proper role of the Church, to tell people how or for whom to vote. However, we have a responsibility to be a voice for the innocent, the helpless, for life itself at this time of political clutter. We cannot ignore these issues, many of which we believe are “non-negotiable.” If our nation loses respect for life and true “family values” it will have lost its moral authority to lead the world.

America is founded upon a belief in the existence of truth; in the dignity of the human person; in justice; and in the common good that flows from loving our neighbor and ourselves. All Catholics and people of faith will be praying for God’s guidance and wisdom as we celebrate our democracy.

+ Archbishop José H. Gomez, S.T.D.

28 October 2008

St. Jude, pray for us...

I haven't arrived at the point where I think it's hopeless, but it wouldn't hurt to commend the election to St. Jude.

St. Jude, who courageously preached the Word of God in every difficulty; who defended the poor and challenged the prideful; who, when threatened with death, did not resort to violence or despair; Hear our prayer for peace in our land and a spirit of justice in our leaders. Beseech Almighty God to give us courage to stand up for the right, that we, being conformed to the image of Christ, may bring true peace where there is conflict and tension. Amen.

26 October 2008

23 October 2008

Contacting the Poor Clare Nuns...

Several of you have asked how you can contact the nuns. You can now do that by e-mail.

For prayer requests: prayers@texasnuns.com

For all other correspondence: nuns@texasnuns.com

Hope that helps!

20 October 2008

Am I missing something?

Is this man a hypnotist? Are people so easily mesmerized?

UPDATE: Here's an excellent article for you to read.

And let's not forget good old Joe Biden who recently made this statement: "Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. . . . Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. . . . I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate, and he’s gonna need help."

15 October 2008

All in the family...

Our Poor Clare Nuns and I were pleased to welcome Sister Miriam and Sister Yolanda, also Poor Clares, of the Monasterio de la Encarnacion de Nuestro Senor Jesucristo in Lazaro Cardenas, Michuacan, Mexico. The Sisters are here to raise funds for their monastery, which is located in a very poor area. They provide a strong Catholic witness in a section which is overrun with bars and prostitutes, and they offer perpetual adoration under very difficult circumstances. If you'd like to give a donation to the Sisters, please let me know, and I'll tell you how to get it to them.

14 October 2008

The face of the future...?

I hope and pray not...

And I urge you to read this important and excellent article by Robert George. I tried to link it, but was unsuccessful, which is why I'm posting the whole thing here:

Sen. Barack Obama's views on life issues ranging from abortion to embryonic stem cell research mark him as not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals-even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

What is going on here?

I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying. But before proving my claims about Obama's abortion extremism, let me explain why I have described Obama as ''pro-abortion'' rather than ''pro-choice.''

According to the standard argument for the distinction between these labels, nobody is pro-abortion. Everybody would prefer a world without abortions. After all, what woman would deliberately get pregnant just to have an abortion? But given the world as it is, sometimes women find themselves with unplanned pregnancies at times in their lives when having a baby would present significant problems for them. So even if abortion is not medically required, it should be permitted, made as widely available as possible and, when necessary, paid for with taxpayers' money.

The defect in this argument can easily be brought into focus if we shift to the moral question that vexed an earlier generation of Americans: slavery. Many people at the time of the American founding would have preferred a world without slavery but nonetheless opposed abolition. Such people - Thomas Jefferson was one - reasoned that, given the world as it was, with slavery woven into the fabric of society just as it had often been throughout history, the economic consequences of abolition for society as a whole and for owners of plantations and other businesses that relied on slave labor would be dire. Many people who argued in this way were not monsters but honest and sincere, albeit profoundly mistaken. Some (though not Jefferson) showed their personal opposition to slavery by declining to own slaves themselves or freeing slaves whom they had purchased or inherited. They certainly didn't think anyone should be forced to own slaves. Still, they maintained that slavery should remain a legally permitted option and be given constitutional protection.

Would we describe such people, not as pro-slavery, but as ''pro-choice''? Of course we would not. It wouldn't matter to us that they were ''personally opposed'' to slavery, or that they wished that slavery were ''unnecessary,'' or that they wouldn't dream of forcing anyone to own slaves. We would hoot at the faux sophistication of a placard that said ''Against slavery? Don't own one.'' We would observe that the fundamental divide is between people who believe that law and public power should permit slavery, and those who think that owning slaves is an unjust choice that should be prohibited.

Just for the sake of argument, though, let us assume that there could be a morally meaningful distinction between being ''pro-abortion'' and being ''pro-choice.'' Who would qualify for the latter description? Barack Obama certainly would not. For, unlike his running mate Joe Biden, Obama does not think that abortion is a purely private choice that public authority should refrain from getting involved in. Now, Senator Biden is hardly pro-life. He believes that the killing of the unborn should be legally permitted and relatively unencumbered. But unlike Obama, at least Biden has sometimes opposed using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, thereby leaving Americans free to choose not to implicate themselves in it. If we stretch things to create a meaningful category called ''pro-choice,'' then Biden might be a plausible candidate for the label; at least on occasions when he respects your choice or mine not to facilitate deliberate feticide.

The same cannot be said for Barack Obama. For starters, he supports legislation that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest. The abortion industry laments that this longstanding federal law, according to the pro-abortion group NARAL, ''forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes instead.'' In other words, a whole lot of people who are alive today would have been exterminated in utero were it not for the Hyde Amendment. Obama has promised to reverse the situation so that abortions that the industry complains are not happening (because the federal government is not subsidizing them) would happen. That is why people who profit from abortion love Obama even more than they do his running mate.

But this barely scratches the surface of Obama's extremism. He has promised that ''the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act'' (known as FOCA). This proposed legislation would create a federally guaranteed ''fundamental right'' to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including, as Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has noted in a statement condemning the proposed Act, ''a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined 'health' reasons.'' In essence, FOCA would abolish virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry-protections against being forced to participate in the practice of abortion or else lose their jobs. The pro-abortion National Organization for Women has proclaimed with approval that FOCA would ''sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.''

It gets worse. Obama, unlike even many ''pro-choice'' legislators, opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature and condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this heinous practice. He has referred to a baby conceived inadvertently by a young woman as a ''punishment'' that she should not endure. He has stated that women's equality requires access to abortion on demand. Appallingly, he wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need. There is certainly nothing ''pro-choice'' about that.

But it gets even worse. Senator Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. In fact, Obama has opposed key provisions of the Act, including providing coverage of unborn children in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and informed consent for women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their child. This legislation would not make a single abortion illegal. It simply seeks to make it easier for pregnant women to make the choice not to abort their babies. Here is a concrete test of whether Obama is ''pro-choice'' rather than pro-abortion. He flunked. Even Senator Edward Kennedy voted to include coverage of unborn children in S-CHIP. But Barack Obama stood resolutely with the most stalwart abortion advocates in opposing it.

It gets worse yet. In an act of breathtaking injustice which the Obama campaign lied about until critics produced documentary proof of what he had done, as an Illinois state senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist's unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. This legislation would not have banned any abortions. Indeed, it included a specific provision ensuring that it did not affect abortion laws. (This is one of the points Obama and his campaign lied about until they were caught.) The federal version of the bill passed unanimously in the United States Senate, winning the support of such ardent advocates of legal abortion as John Kerry and Barbara Boxer. But Barack Obama opposed it and worked to defeat it. For him, a child marked for abortion gets no protection-even ordinary medical or comfort care-even if she is born alive and entirely separated from her mother. So Obama has favored protecting what is literally a form of infanticide.

You may be thinking, it can't get worse than that. But it does.

For several years, Americans have been debating the use for biomedical research of embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (originally for reproductive purposes) but now left in a frozen condition in cryopreservation units. President Bush has restricted the use of federal funds for stem-cell research of the type that makes use of these embryos and destroys them in the process. I support the President's restriction, but some legislators with excellent pro-life records, including John McCain, argue that the use of federal money should be permitted where the embryos are going to be discarded or die anyway as the result of the parents' decision. Senator Obama, too, wants to lift the restriction.

But Obama would not stop there. He has co-sponsored a bill-strongly opposed by McCain-that would authorize the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research in which they would be killed. In fact, the bill Obama co-sponsored would effectively require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning. It would make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be brought to term. This ''clone and kill'' bill would, if enacted, bring something to America that has heretofore existed only in China-the equivalent of legally mandated abortion. In an audacious act of deceit, Obama and his co-sponsors misleadingly call this an anti-cloning bill. But it is nothing of the kind. What it bans is not cloning, but allowing the embryonic children produced by cloning to survive.

Can it get still worse? Yes.

Decent people of every persuasion hold out the increasingly realistic hope of resolving the moral issue surrounding embryonic stem-cell research by developing methods to produce the exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos. But when a bill was introduced in the United States Senate to put a modest amount of federal money into research to develop these methods, Barack Obama was one of the few senators who opposed it. From any rational vantage point, this is unconscionable. Why would someone not wish to find a method of producing the pluripotent cells scientists want that all Americans could enthusiastically endorse? Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos.

This ultimate manifestation of Obama's extremism brings us back to the puzzle of his pro-life Catholic and Evangelical apologists.

They typically do not deny the facts I have reported. They could not; each one is a matter of public record. But despite Obama's injustices against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn (which should be a good indicator of where he stands), some Obama supporters insist that he is the better candidate from the pro-life point of view.

They say that his economic and social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall number would actually go down-despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn babies, they say, is to vote for the pro-abortion-oops! ''pro-choice''-candidate. They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.

This is delusional.

We know that the federal and state pro-life laws and policies that Obama has promised to sweep away (and that John McCain would protect) save thousands of lives every year. Studies conducted by Professor Michael New and other social scientists have removed any doubt. Often enough, the abortion lobby itself confirms the truth of what these scholars have determined. Tom McClusky has observed that Planned Parenthood's own statistics show that in each of the seven states that have FOCA-type legislation on the books, ''abortion rates have increased while the national rate has decreased.'' In Maryland, where a bill similar to the one favored by Obama was enacted in 1991, he notes that ''abortion rates have increased by 8 percent while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9 percent.'' No one is really surprised. After all, the message clearly conveyed by policies such as those Obama favors is that abortion is a legitimate solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies - so clearly legitimate that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it.

But for a moment let's suppose, against all the evidence, that Obama's proposals would reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion-even if we take a delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.

Barack Obama and John McCain differ on many important issues about which reasonable people of goodwill, including pro-life Americans of every faith, disagree: how best to fight international terrorism, how to restore economic growth and prosperity, how to distribute the tax burden and reduce poverty, etc.

But on abortion and the industrial creation of embryos for destructive research, there is a profound difference of moral principle, not just prudence. These questions reveal the character and judgment of each man. Barack Obama is deeply committed to the belief that members of an entire class of human beings have no rights that others must respect. Across the spectrum of pro-life concerns for the unborn, he would deny these small and vulnerable members of the human family the basic protection of the laws. Over the next four to eight years, as many as five or even six U.S. Supreme Court justices could retire. Obama enthusiastically supports Roe v. Wade and would appoint judges who would protect that morally and constitutionally disastrous decision and even expand its scope. Indeed, in an interview in Glamour magazine, he made it clear that he would apply a litmus test for Supreme Court nominations: jurists who do not support Roe will not be considered for appointment by Obama. John McCain, by contrast, opposes Roe and would appoint judges likely to overturn it. This would not make abortion illegal, but it would return the issue to the forums of democratic deliberation, where pro-life Americans could engage in a fair debate to persuade fellow citizens that killing the unborn is no way to address the problems of pregnant women in need.

What kind of America do we want our beloved nation to be? Barack Obama's America is one in which being human just isn't enough to warrant care and protection. It is an America where the unborn may legitimately be killed without legal restriction, even by the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. It is an America where a baby who survives abortion is not even entitled to comfort care as she dies on a stainless steel table or in a soiled linen bin. It is a nation in which some members of the human family are regarded as inferior and others superior in fundamental dignity and rights. In Obama's America, public policy would make a mockery of the great constitutional principle of the equal protection of the law. In perhaps the most telling comment made by any candidate in either party in this election year, Senator Obama, when asked by Rick Warren when a baby gets human rights, replied: ''that question is above my pay grade.'' It was a profoundly disingenuous answer: For even at a state senator's pay grade, Obama presumed to answer that question with blind certainty. His unspoken answer then, as now, is chilling: human beings have no rights until infancy - and if they are unwanted survivors of attempted abortions, not even then.

In the end, the efforts of Obama's apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn't even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and previously served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He sits on the editorial board of Public Discourse.

Water of Life...

I thought this picture was beautiful... welcome to young Benedict Arthur Bernier, a new soldier of Christ.

10 October 2008

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Pincemaille!

I almost forgot to post these pictures, taken at the reception following a magnificent organ recital presented on October 4th by Pierre Pincemaille, showcasing our Casavant and Nave Organs. I was reminded by the recent commemoration of St. Denis and his Companions, because Monsieur Pincemaille is the Titular Organist at the Cathedral of St. Denis in Paris.

In the picture below I'm explaining to Monsieur Pincemaille that, in a sense, one of the influences urging me to the priesthood was the Cesar Franck "Choral No. 3 in A minor," which was the opening piece at the recital. Nothing mystical about its influence. I simply struggled so much to learn it while an undergraduate organ student, that it helped me realize that my gifts lay elsewhere!

This picture shows Monsieur Pincemaille and me with Edmund Murray, our own very talented Organist and Choirmaster.

Here's the program:
Choral No. 3 in A minor, by Cesar Franck
Prelude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 19, by Cesar Franck
From Symphony II in E minor, Op. 20, by Louis Vierne
Choral Varie sur le theme du "Veni Creator" by Maurice Durufle
Le Banquet Celeste, by Olivier Messiaen
Improvisation on a submitted theme (which was the hymn tune "Aurelia")

07 October 2008

Subprime lending explained...

...as only the British can.

04 October 2008

Innocent question...

I was talking to one of our teachers' aides the other day, and she told me a cute story about her granddaughter, who is a very young student here at the Academy. The little girl and her mother were out shopping, and she saw a sign for "Public Rest Rooms." Her question? "Mommy, where are the Catholic Rest Rooms?"

24 September 2008

If we bailed out McDonalds...

Here's a delightful piece of satire from Rob Long of the National Review:

TO: All McDonald’s Team Members

FROM: Management

RE: New Federal Guidelines in wake of the federal rescue

Dear Team:

As most of you are aware, the past few days have been challenging for all members of the McDonald’s USA and McDonald’s Worldwide Team.

McDonald’s, as you know, maintained a complex and highly-leveraged commodity futures operation, and recent events in the financial markets have made our risk-management strategies impossible to maintain.

(Read the whole article…)

19 September 2008

Bible study, anyone?

We're making my classes on Holy Scripture available on podcasts. If you go to this website, you'll find recordings of several classes which covered St. Mark's Gospel, and also some classes covering the Epistle to the Hebrews.

They've only just started to be made available, so lots more will be coming soon. You can download these to your iPod if you have one, or you can just listen on-line.

I love teaching the Scriptures, and I hope these studies will be useful to some of you.

Music lovers, mark your calendars...

We are pleased to announce that, after a very successful inaugural year, our parish will once again host a Music Series. The first event will take place on Saturday October 4th at 7:30 PM. Our featured artist will be world-renowned French organist Pierre Pincemaille. Monsieur Pincemaille serves as Titular Organist of the Cathedral/Basilica of Saint-Denis, in Paris, France. In addition, he teaches harmony at the prestigious French music school, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. He has toured widely as both a recitalist and orchestral soloist in Europe, North America, Russia, China, and South Africa, and performing under the batons of conductors such as Mstislav Rostropovitch, Myung Whun Chung, Riccardo Muti, and Charles Dutoit.

Monsieur Pincemaille’s recital will feature works of Bach, Franck, Vierne, and Durufle, as well as his own improvisations, all performed on our magnificent Casavant pipe organ.
. . . . .
UPDATE: here's a link to the specifications of the Casavant gallery organ and the Nave organ.

God help us

One of the issues in the current presidential campaign is whether or not Barack Obama has voted in favor of infanticide. He and his campaign, of course, deny that he has ever done such a thing. But his opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act is a matter of public record, and no matter how much he attempts to justify his position, it still comes down to the same things: dead babies.

Have a look at this brief article by Mona Charen. Here are the last two paragraphs:

At the time, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator. An almost exact copy of the federal bill was introduced in 2001. Obama opposed it, saying, “I mean it, it would essentially bar abortions because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.” Even though the baby would be completely separated from the mother. In 2003, the Illinois legislature added a neutrality clause to the bill, making it a virtual clone of the federal legislation. As chairman of the committee considering the bill, Obama again opposed it, saying, “… an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman …”

Barack Obama is a charming and intelligent man. But there is no other way to interpret his position on BAIPA than this: A woman who chooses an abortion is entitled to a dead child no matter what. That is an abortion extremist.

This isn't a political issue. No, this is direct cooperation with evil.

15 September 2008

Stabat Mater

At the cross her vigil keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
where he hung, the dying Lord:

There she waited in her anguish,
seeing Christ in torment languish,
in her heart the piercing sword.

With what pain and desolation,
with what grief and resignation,
Mary watched her dying Son.

Deep the woe of her affliction,
when she saw the crucifixion
of the sole-begotten one.

Him she saw for our salvation
mocked with cruel acclamation,
scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined.

Saw him then from judgement taken,
and in death by all forsaken,
till his spirit he resigned.

Who, on Christ’s dear Mother gazing,
pierced by anguish so amazing,
born of woman, would not weep?

Who, on Christ’s dear Mother thinking,
such a cup of sorrow drinking,
would not share her sorrows deep?

Jesus, may her deep devotion
stir in me the same emotion,
Fount of love, Redeemer kind.

That my heart fresh ardour gaining,
and a purer love attaining,
may with thee acceptance find.

13 September 2008

Tree of Life

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross there will be a procession of the Relic of the True Cross, which our parish is blessed to have. At the 11:00 a.m. Mass the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre will be in attendance. At the conclusion of the procession, we will offer this litany in the presence of the Relic:

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.