28 January 2008

Confirmation and First Holy Communion

Archbishop Jose Gomez visited the parish this past Saturday to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to ninety-seven children and adults. He and I concelebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin according to the Ordinary Form.

Here is the high altar, prepared for the archbishop as celebrant:

Archbishop Gomez with Deacon James P. Orr, one of our two deacons. Deacon Michael D'Agostino was also at the Mass, but isn't pictured here:

The archbishop beginning the administration of Holy Communion. As is evident in the picture, the Blessed Sacrament is given by intinction:

Some of our newly-confirmed children receive their First Holy Communion from the archbishop:

25 January 2008

Archbishop will offer the Mass in Latin...

I've heard in excess of a hundred confessions since Tuesday, in preparation for the archbishop's visit to Our Lady of the Atonement tomorrow, when he will be administering the Sacrament of Confirmation. Most of the children also will be receiving First Holy Communion at that Mass, since we have instituted the restored order of the sacraments of initiation.

Archbishop Gomez will be celebrating the Mass in Latin, using the Ordinary Form. This is the second year he has done this, and I think he looks forward to it.

I'll give a fuller report after the big day tomorrow.

24 January 2008


Although it's not a paper I have any desire to read with regularity, the National Catholic Reporter has a very good story about Cardinal Bernard Law, written by John Allen. It gives a glimpse of his life as Archpriest at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and weaves the obligatory discussion of the Boston scandals throughout. But overall, it shows a picture of a man who has come to terms with his present place in the Church, and who has the blessing of a deepened relationship with Christ.

I usually manage to visit him when I'm in Rome, and our relationship goes back more than twenty-five years, when I was going through the process of the Pastoral Provision. He also visited our parish on the occasion of our tenth anniversary and stayed with us for a few days. My family got to know him a bit, and he never fails to ask about them whenever I see him. I think he asks because he's interested, and not just to make conversation.

There are many who say he hasn't paid a high enough price for what he did or failed to do, but I know he has paid something. And he has gained something. To speak to him now is to speak to a man who has an air of authentic humility about him. There's a kindness there, which wasn't so evident before. As nightmarish as the Boston scandals were, and as neglectful as it appears he was, I think the Cardinal has come out of it as a holier man.

Anyway, I enourage you to read the article.

22 January 2008

A day of prayer and penance...

Thirty-five years ago, to our shame, the killing of unborn children was made legal in this country. Today, January 22nd, is to be observed as a day of penance for the assault on the dignity of innocent life committed through acts of abortion, and a day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

Almighty God, who hast created us in thine own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

17 January 2008

That unity willed by Christ...

Tomorrow, 18th January, marks the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when Christians throughout the world pray for that unity which was willed by the Lord Jesus Christ. We continue to use to traditional “Octave Prayers” as compiled by Fr. Paul of Graymoor, with the intention that all Christians may be one, under the headship of the Successor of St. Peter.

ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.

V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;
R. And upon this rock I will build my Church.

[Here is brought to mind the intention for the day's prayer.]

January 18: For the return of the "other sheep" to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.
January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
January 22: That Christians in America may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.
January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.
January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will; Who livest and reignest ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

12 January 2008

"The sinless one to Jordan came..."

It was an ancient Jewish practice when preparing bread to consecrate a small portion of the dough to God, and then by kneading the blessed dough into the larger lump, all of it was made holy.

Likewise, the water in which Christ was baptized has long ago flowed from the Jordan River into the oecans of the world, thus consecrating all the water of the earth. It is wonderful to remember this, because when the waters of baptism were poured over us, we were baptized in water which had been made holy by our Lord Himself.

The baptismal font becomes a mystical Jordan. The Holy Spirit descends. And the Father, who revealed to the world at Christ's baptism that He is indeed the Beloved Son, proclaims us to be His children, too.

04 January 2008

Time to grow up

The Holy See has begun work on a document giving further explanation to Pope Benedict's motu proprio, which gave broader permission for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin. It appears that some bishops have been ignoring, misinterpreting or purposely disobeying the words of the Holy Father.

Why does it seem as though some of our spiritual leaders are caught in what seems like a permanent state immature adolescence? I remember my own children -- back when they were children -- would go through all sorts of mental gymnastics and parsing of words when it came to obeying the legitimate rules of our household. They knew perfectly well what the plain meaning was, but they would sometimes make it almost their duty to see if they could get around it. Most of us parents have experienced that with our children, and at times it seemed like we were dealing with miniature Jesuits, as the rules would get stretched to the limit. "You said no cookies before supper, but you didn't say no ice cream!" "You said to wash my hands, but you didn't say I had to use soap." "You said to be home by nine o'clock, but you didn't say I had to be in the house." By the time our fifth child came along, I was a whole lot better at explaining exactly what I meant.

Why does it seem like this is what the Holy Father is having to do with some of his bishops? They know perfectly well what the motu proprio says. It's written in pretty plain language. But they insist on injecting their own nuances into it, making their own interpretations, knowing full well that what they're doing isn't what the Pope meant.

What was it that St. Paul wrote? "...when I became a man, I put away childish things..."

03 January 2008

A new bishop for Amarillo

The Most Reverend Patrick Zurek has been an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of San Antonio for the past ten years. Today he was appointed by the Holy Father to be the Bishop of Amarillo, succeeding Bishop John Yanta, who also had been an auxiliary bishop in this archdiocese. We pray for Bishop Zurek as he prepares to take on his new responsibilities as an Ordinary. I would presume we will be receiving a new auxiliary bishop here in the not-too-distant future, so we'd better pray for that as well.

02 January 2008

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness...

Here's a picture of Holy Mass at the High Altar on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

O God, who didst vouchsafe that, as at this time, thy Word was made flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Grant to us thy humble servants; that we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God, may by her intercession find favor in thy sight. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.