29 February 2008

The San Antonio Poor Clares

Pictured here are the five nuns who will be founding the monastery here at Our Lady of the Atonement. From left to right they are: Sr. Marie St. Clare, Sr. Rose Marie, Sr. Grace Marie (who will be the Superior), Sr. Mary Peter and Sr. Elizabeth Marie.

Please do pray for the Sisters as they get ready for their move, which will be taking place sometime in May. It'll be difficult, I'm sure, for them to leave their Sisters in Hanceville, but they have a real pioneering spirit, and we'll have our hearts and our arms open to welcome them here.

28 February 2008

Another milestone along the way...

It has become our tradition to bless the class rings for the students in their Junior Year at the academy during Mass on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. I like to remind them that their rings serve as a sign that their lives are bound to the Catholic faith which is taught here in all its fullness, and that St. Peter is the Rock upon which it rests, by the Divine Will of Jesus Christ.

This picture shows the students gathering for the Blessing of the Rings:

Here's a picture of the members of our Junior Class, along with Deacon Orr and myself, after Mass:
I've known many of these students since they were very young children, and it's hard to believe that they'll be here only one more year after this.

26 February 2008

Another good day...

Today has been a gorgeous day here in south Texas, although I can't say I've seen much of it. My home has been the confessional for most of the day (on the listening side, I hasten to add!). There was the usual start to the day, unlocking just after 5:30 a.m., then Mass at 7:00 a.m. As soon as the Mass was over, I went into the confessional for students' confessions, and stayed there until it was time to prepare for the 9:15 a.m. Mass. After that, it was back for more confessions until lunch time. After lunch there were yet more students' confessions, and I've just finished. It's been one of those days when I feel the special joy of being a priest.

22 February 2008

Anglican Use Conference website...

Please go to this website for information about the 2008 Anglican Use Conference. You'll find the registration form and hotel information, too. The Conference dates are July 10 - 12, and it's important to get your registration in as soon as possible -- especially your hotel reservations. Lots of people visit San Antonio during the summer, and hotels fill up quickly.

20 February 2008

Permission has been granted...

His Eminence, Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has communicated permission to establish a monastery for the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration here in San Antonio.

We can now prepare in earnest for the arrival of five nuns from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama. They will be taking up residence in our St. Joseph Parish House. There is, of course, a chapel there with the Blessed Sacrament, although they will be attending Mass ordinarily here at the parish. We’re looking forward to welcoming the Sisters as part of our extended “Atonement Family,” and we need to pray for them as they get ready to leave their present beloved monastery to begin this new work.

18 February 2008

2008 Anglican Use Conference

Mark your calendars for the 2008 Anglican Use Conference which will have as its theme, “The First 25 Years of the Anglican Usage of the Roman Rite; Unity in Diversity in the Catholic Church.” The Conference will be held from Thursday, July 10th to Saturday, July 12th at Our Lady of the Atonement Church in San Antonio, Texas, and the speakers will include Archbishop John Myers (Archbishop of Newark and the Ecclesiastical Delegrate for the Pastoral Provision), Fr. Christopher G. Phillips (Pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church, the founding parish for the Anglican Use) and Dr. Jeffrey N. Steenson (formerly the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, and recent convert to the Catholic Church).

The registration fee is $90.00 per person. The form for registering and hotel information will be available within the next few days at www.anglicanuseconference.com, or you may call (570) 343-0634 for further information.

It's really just one President's Day

This editorial from the New Hampshire Union Leader seems most appropriate for today:

Washington's Birthday Editorial: Celebrating America's father

TODAY is generally known as Presidents Day, but its official name is George Washington's Birthday. And for good reason.

Without George Washington, there might never have been a United States of America. Washington shaped his world more profoundly than any other man of his time. Not bad for a hot-tempered adventurer with little formal schooling.

Washington was 6-foot-3 and so strong a cousin said he could throw a stone clear across the Rappahannock River (not a coin across the Potomac, as legend later had it). He was a professional surveyor by age 17. By age 21, he was a major in the Virginia militia, trusted enough that the governor sent him to order the French out of the Ohio River Valley.

On his second trip to assert England's claim on the territory, he accidentally started the French and Indian War. Really. He wrote a friend after the skirmish that ended in his surrender, "I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."

In a later battle, Washington, though only a volunteer aide, took command as Gen. Braddock's army was being routed, and rode before the men in a courageous attempt to rally them. He had two horses shot out from under him and four bullets shot through his coat. He liked it so much, it became a trademark behavior. During the Revolutionary War, when most commanders watched the battle from safely behind their forces, Washington routinely rode the line, shouting orders, encouraging his men, and defying death and the enemy.

Washington's personal bravery was matched by his creativity as a commander. Unable to beat the British head-on, he outfoxed them. Had any other general been in charge of the Continental Army, it almost surely would have failed. Washington figured out how to beat the British by fighting a new style of war.

Having won that war, Washington in 1783 ceremoniously resigned his command. He could have taken over the country, something many expected him to do. Instead, he baffled the princes of Europe by relinquishing his power and returning to his farm.

Four years later, he was called from retirement to preside over the Constitutional Convention, where he helped shape the Constitution. His efforts to encourage ratification were probably the difference in some states, especially Virginia, which ratified the Constitution by a single vote.

Again, Washington retired. But not for long. Without campaigning for the job, he was elected President by a unanimous vote of the Electoral College.

As President, Washington again baffled his detractors by refusing to assert authoritarian control. His administration was marked with great successes and some blunders. But he achieved his wish of making the presidency a short-term office held in trust on behalf of the people.

"His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motive of interest or consanguinity, friendship, or hatred, being able to bias his decision," Thomas Jefferson wrote.

That is the standard Washington set. It has not always been followed, of course. But Americans to this day strive to put someone in office who can live up to Washington's ideals.

To call today Presidents Day is to do an injustice to our greatest President and the man without whom we would not have a republic of our own. Yes, we have had some great Presidents since, but none as great as George Washington.

16 February 2008

Spires through the trees...

My brother Tim, and his wife Karen, recently travelled from Connecticut to visit us in San Antonio, and Karen enjoys snapping pictures wherever she goes. She sent me a bunch of them which she took during their visit, and I especially liked this one, showing our church spires through the trees, from the vantage point of the rectory's back garden.

A hymn for Lent II

Behold our Lord transfigured,
In Sacrament Divine;
His glory deeply hidden,
'Neath forms of Bread and Wine.
Our eyes of faith behold Him,
Salvation is outpoured;
The Saviour dwells among us,
by ev'ry heart adored.

No longer on the mountain
With Peter, James and John,
Our precious Saviour bids us
To walk where saints have gone.
He has no lasting dwelling,
Save in the hearts of men;
He feeds us with His Body,
To make us whole again.

With Moses and Elijah,
We worship Christ our King;
Lord, make our souls transfigured,
Let us with angels sing.
Lead us in paths of glory,
Give tongues to sing thy praise;
Lord Jesus, keep us faithful,
Now and for all our days.

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: "Ewing" by Alexander C. Ewing, 1853

14 February 2008

Thank you, Archbishop Gomez

The Archbishop of San Antonio made the following statement when he learned that Hillary Clinton was speaking at St. Mary's University:

I was surprised to learn of Senator Hillary Clinton’s appearance at St. Mary’s University. I was neither advised nor consulted by the university before the decision was made to have Senator Clinton speak at the university. Catholic institutions are obliged to teach and promote Catholic values in all instances. This is especially important when people look to our Catholic universities and colleges to provide leadership and clarity to the often complicated and conflicting political discourse. It is clear that the records of Senator Clinton and some of the other candidates for president on important life issues are not consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is not my intention to tell people for whom to vote. However, I encourage Catholics to understand the teachings of the Church on the broad spectrum of public issues that are of great concern today. I urge the faculty and the ministry staff at St. Mary’s University to continue to carry out their responsibility to educate their students in their political duty in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic bishops of the United States, in their 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life”, affirmed that when dealing with political candidates and public office holders, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” In a statement distributed by St. Mary’s University, they wrote, “As a Catholic tax-exempt university, St. Mary’s does not endorse political candidates or their positions on issues and acknowledges the fundamental differences between those of the presidential candidates and the Catholic Church.” Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the Church calls “an unspeakable crime” and a non-negotiable issue.

My understanding is that the archbishop's private conversation with university officials left them in no doubt that such an outrage should not happen again.

11 February 2008

Here's a book recommendation...

If you don't read another book this year, read The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture, by Philip F. Lawler. I'm only starting chapter 5, but I'm astounded by his clarity in defining "where things went wrong," resulting in the confused state of Catholicism and its vastly reduced influence in our nation today. He makes it clear right at the beginning that the scandal of sexual abuse and how it has been dealt with by our bishops -- deadly serious though it is -- is but a part of the picture.

It's not a pleasant book to read, but it's certainly illuminating -- and it applies to far more than just the Church in Boston. Although I'm only a quarter of the way through, I have a feeling that this book will outline very clearly the lessons we should learn for moving into the future.

09 February 2008

A Lenten thought...

Who among us, if we were planning to invite a respected person to our home for dinner, would rifle around in the refrigerator and drag out last Tuesday's left-overs to warm up for our guest? Rather, would we not make a special trip to the grocery store, list in hand, and find the best that our circumstances would allow, so that the meal would represent our best offering?

If this is true on the most basic human level, surely it should be true in our relationship with God. The offering of our first-fruits to the Lord is a scriptural principle of which we need to be reminded on a regular basis.

How easy it is to slip into the bad habit of giving God our left-over time, our left-over money, and our left-over love. But the Lord, who has given Himself to us, deserves nothing less than our very best.

07 February 2008

Gimme that ol' time religion...

It’s reached the point that I have to give almost daily thanks to God for having gotten me out of Anglicanism. The blessing of being a Catholic aside for a moment, the stuff that comes out of the Anglican Communion just gets more and more bizarre, and I think to myself, “Was I really part of that mess?” Here’s the latest from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, as reported by the BBC:

Sharia law in UK is 'unavoidable'

Dr Williams says Muslims should have a choice in legal disputes

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.”

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.

He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".

But Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger".

Dr Williams adds: "What we don't want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people's religious consciences."

"We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."

Multiculturalism 'divisive'

Under English law, people may devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process.

Muslim Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din which already exist in the UK come into this category.

Dr Williams' comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK.

Last month, one of Dr William's colleagues, the Bishop of Rochester, said that non-Muslims may find it hard to live or work in some areas of the UK.

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said there was "hostility" in some areas and described the government's multicultural policies as divisive.

He said there had been a worldwide resurgence of Islamic extremism, leading to young people growing up alienated from the country they lived in.

He has since received death threats and has been placed under police protection.

After hearing from Dr. Williams, it struck me that perhaps he also should support the implementation of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law. I mean, why should a Catholic have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty” if Muslims who choose to live in Western society don’t have to?

01 February 2008

Fifty heavenly ranks...

This Sunday at four o’clock in the afternoon our organist, Mr. Edmund G. Murray, will present a recital on our combined Gallery and Nave Organs. We’re commemorating the first anniversary of the blessing and dedication of the Casavant Frères Gallery Organ, and it will also be the occasion of blessing and dedicating the recently completed Nave Organ, built by the Ballard Organ Company of San Antonio.

The Gallery Organ consists of thirty-six ranks of pipes, and the Nave Organ is made up of fourteen ranks of pipes, making a total of fifty ranks. There are plans for adding a few more ranks in the future, and my dream is to crown it all with a Trompette en chamade capable of blowing the opposite wall out… but that’s down the road sometime.

Both organs are played from the gallery console, either separately, or with complete coupling capability. It’s very effective for an “echo” effect, or for separating a solo stop, and the Nave Organ combined with the Gallery Organ is extremely helpful in supporting congregational singing. Having some of the sound coming from half-way down the nave, combined with the sound from the gallery, gives a very full accompaniment for the hymns.

Below is a stoplist for the two organs:

Gallery Organ
Casavant Frères, Opus 2016

SWELL (enclosed)

8’ Geigen Principal
8’ Stopped Diapason
8’ Viola da Gamba
8’ Voix Celeste (GG)
4’ Octave Geigen
4’ Flauto Traverso
2’ Flautino
III Tierce Mixture
16’ Contra Fagotto
8’ Trumpet
8’ Oboe*
8’ Vox Humana
4’ Clarion


16’ Violone*
16’ Gedeckt
8’ Open Diapason
8’ Hohl Flute
8’ Chimney Flute*
8’ Gemshorn
4’ Octave
2’ Fifteenth
III Mixture
8’ Trumpet*

CHOIR (enclosed)

8’ Violin Diapason
8’ Melodia
8’ Dulciana
4’ Lieblich Flute
2 2/3’ Nazard
2’ Flageolet
8’ Clarinet
8’ Festival Trumpet*


32’ Bourdon+
16’ Contra Bass
16’ Bourdon
16’ Gedeckt (from Gt.)
8’ Octave (from Contra Bass)
8’ Cello
8’ Bourdon (from 16’ Bd.)
4’ Choral Bass (from Cello)
32’ Contra Trombone*
16’ Trombone
16’ Contra Fagotto (from Sw.)
8’ Trumpet*
4’ Clarion*

* - Denotes stops prepared for future addition
+ - Denotes not part of the original Casavant specifications.

Nave Organ
Ballard Pipe Organs
Spring 2007


8’ Open Diapason
8’ Gedeckt
4’ Harmonic Flute
2 2/3’ Nazard
2’ Fifteenth
2’ Spitzflute
1 3/5’ Tierce
III Mixture
8’ Orlo


16’ Gedeckt

If you're in the San Antonio area, you're most welcome to come to the recital on Sunday afternoon (it'll be over in time for the Superbowl kick-off!), and if you're an organist and would like to visit to play the organ, by all means contact Mr. Murray. We're happy to share this magnificent instrument.