31 August 2008

Stella Maris

Pray for those who are in danger because of the hurricane:

O Mary, Star of the Sea, Mother of God, to whom we give thanks for thy maternal protection; Intercede, we beseech thee, for all who are in danger from the perils of storms and flooding, that they may be protected from all danger by the power of thy Son Jesus, who calmed the sea; through the same Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

30 August 2008

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb...

There are some great old hymns that always bring a lump to my throat and make me a little misty-eyed. We’ll be singing this one tomorrow after Holy Communion, while we’re all kneeling in adoration of the great Mystery which comes to us:

O Lord, I am not worthy
that thou should’st come to me;
but speak the word of comfort,
my spirit healed shall be.

And humbly I’ll receive thee,
the Bridegroom of my soul;
no more by sin to grieve thee,
or flee thy sweet control.

The Sacrifice is ended,
Atonement has been made,
the Lamb for sinners given,
the ransom full has paid.

Increase my faith, dear Jesus,
in thy Real Presence here;
and make me feel most deeply
that thou to me art near.

O Sacrament most holy,
O Sacrament divine,
all praise and all thanksgiving
be ev’ry moment thine.

It’s favorite of most of the folks who worship here, and I can almost hear the full-throated singing and the rumbling organ now. It makes for one of those unbeatable moments in the worship of Almighty God.

29 August 2008

Well done, John!

I'm really excited about the vice-presidential choice. Sarah Palin is the current governor of Alaska, she's pro-life, she's a happily married mother of five, she's fought corrupt politicians, she's gorgeous, and she's ours!

And it's just frosting on the cake that this probably chaps Hillary big-time. Ok, that wasn't very nice of me, but I can't help it. This is a great choice.

28 August 2008

"First, find an ugly building..."

That would be the opening line if I were to write a book on “Going Green for God: A Guide To Saving Your Energy For Really Important Things.” The news just came out that the Vatican will be installing solar energy panels, making it the first State to meet European energy goals. I think that’s great. Of course, it’ll probably take about a hundred and fifty years to recoup the costs. Ok, I’m being sarcastic. I have no idea how long it will take to have enough energy savings to pay for them.

But the interesting thing is where they’re installing them. Not on St. Peter’s Basilica. Not on the Sistine Chapel. No, the only building found suitable is the Paul VI Hall. As the story says, it was chosen “because the structure of the building lends itself to panels and the construction will minimally change its look.” That’s a nice way of saying that the building already looks like a big solar panel, and it’s well nigh impossible to make it any less attractive. But come to think of it, the Holy See might be onto something. There have been a lot of really ugly churches built over this past generation. Maybe a few solar panels could spruce them up, and save some money at the same time.

Our shepherds are not silent...

Featured prominently on our archdiocesan webpage is the following:

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Cantu join the bishops of the United States in response to House Speaker Pelosi’s remarks concerning abortion.

We are taking this opportunity to call the attention of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to a statement issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s misrepresentations of Church teaching on abortion. We agree whole heartedly with the statement issued by Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop William E. Lori of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. Below is the text of their response.

Bishops respond to house speaker Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion.

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

27 August 2008

Habemus papam novum, apparently

Maybe Mrs. Pelosi is demonstrating a case of invincible ignorance, but I doubt it. I'm forcing myself to pray for her. I have to admit that I don't really want to, but she needs our prayers. Not only for her own soul, but for the sake of all those whom she influences. And pray for Archbishop Niederauer, too. He's got some serious pastoral work to do.

22 August 2008

Hail, Holy Queen!

From a sermon by St. John Damascene (b. A.D. 676):

We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us, honour shown to servants, is honour shown to our common Lord, how can honour shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable? Art thou not honoured as the very breath of life? Thus shall we best show our service to our Lord Himself. What do I say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.

Whatever it takes...

My good friend Fr. Stravinskas likes to forward little stories from time to time. This one arrived this morning:

At Saint Mary’s Catholic Church they have a weekly husband’s marriage seminar. At the session last week, the priest asked Luigi, who was approaching his 50th wedding anniversary, to take a few minutes and share some insight into how he had managed to stay married to the same woman all these years.

Luigi replied to the assembled husbands, “Wella, I've a-tried to treat-a her nice-a, spenda da money on her, but besta of alla is that I tooka her to Italy for the 25th anniversary!”

The priest responded, “Luigi, you are an amazing inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what you are planning for your wife for your 50th anniversary.”

Luigi proudly replied, “I'm agonna go get her.”

21 August 2008

Message received...

On the occasion of my anniversary I received lots of handwritten notes from students. I was just looking through the drawings and messages from one of the second grade classes. The teacher must have told the young students, "Write a letter of congratulations to Father." Obviously there was no copying going on, because I've never seen so many creative ways of spelling a word they thought they were supposed to use!

Congragelations. Kyngarshlashns. Congraytions. Congragathon's. Cungrats. Congadgeulashons. Cungaglashis.

Not bad for second grade guesses. Of course, one of them managed to avoid using such a long word. His message was, "Good job father have a good time."

Thanks, buddy. I will.

17 August 2008

The most fortunate priest in San Antonio...

I really am blessed. To mark twenty-five years as the pastor of this wonderful parish is something for which I thank God every day. I really do.

We had a beautiful celebration last evening. Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was gorgeous beyond words. We had a fabulous banquet, after which Archbishop Gomez spoke movingly about our parish and its place in the archdiocese. And then one of our academy students, Dominic King, sang a song for me on behalf of all the students. You can hear the last bit of it on this clip:

What more can I say? I'm really blessed.

15 August 2008

Twenty-five years!

The students decorated the entrance to my office today with a huge banner they'd made and signed. All through the hallways I kept hearing "Happy Anniversary, Father!" What a great day!

Today is the great anniversary date for almost everything around here... the canonical erection of the parish, my ordination to the priesthood, the dedication and blessing of the original church, the founding of the parish school, and the list could go on. Most of the important stuff seems to be tied to the celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our first Mass this morning was celebrated at the High Altar, because our rather sizeable Sacred Heart Chapel was too small for those who were fulfilling their obligation before going to work. Then at 9:15 a.m. the church was jam-packed with all the students and lots of other parishioners who gathered for the celebration of the Latin Mass in the ordinary form. The Upper School choir provided the music, and I have to say they were terrific -- especially considering they've only just begun their rehearsals after the long summer break. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. we'll be celebrating a Solemn Mass using the Anglican Use liturgy, followed by a reception in the courtyard.

I keep telling people I'll be around for the 50th anniversary celebration. After all, I'll only be 83 years old!

13 August 2008

They're ba-a-ack!

Today was the first full day of school at the Academy. Hundreds and hundreds of students -- and almost as many parents -- started arriving early this morning. Plenty of new uniforms and fresh haircuts were in evidence.

This first day's final dismissal bell has rung, and everything went without a hitch. Only one student was sick during Mass, and just a single pre-K student let out a chorus of "I want my Mommy!" The teachers are all still smiling, and I heard lots of students saying to parents, "Wait till you see what I have for homework!"

There are certain things that tell me all's right with the world. Kids back at school is one of 'em.

10 August 2008

Poor Clares arrive on St. Clare's Day!

St. Clare must be pleased. The community of Poor Clare nuns arrive tomorrow on St. Clare's feast day to take up residence in our St. Joseph House, just across the street from the church and school.

Sr. Grace Marie, Sr. Rose Marie, Sr. Elizabeth Marie, Sr. Mary Peter and Sr. Marie St. Clare become official Texans, and we're happy to welcome them home!

09 August 2008

Back to school...

Our faculty has been meeting for in-service this past week. The school building is ship-shape and gleaming with freshly-painted walls and shining floors. The text books are waiting in the classrooms. Last-minute registrations are coming in daily. We're ready for our students to arrive. The Upper School will have an "orientation" half-day on Tuesday, and all students will be here for the first full day on Wednesday.

It's always too quiet around here during the summer months with all the students gone, and I'll be very happy to have them back. If you'd like a look at the school, go here.

06 August 2008

"He was transfigured before them..."

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

05 August 2008

Post-Lambeth assessment...

Want a good wrap-up of the post-Lambeth Anglican situation? Fr. Dwight Longenecker has written the best one I've seen.

Read "Quo Vadis, Canterbury?" here.

04 August 2008

Article in "Today's Catholic"

The Anglican Use Conference received excellent coverage in our archdiocesan newspaper, "Today's Catholic."

SAN ANTONIO • Falling at a time when foundational shifts within the Anglican and Episcopalian churches hold promise of reuniting a segment of their followers with the Catholic Church, the tone of the national Anglican Use Conference held at Our Lady of the Atonement Parish on July 10-12, was decidedly one of optimism. It was a time to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of the past and look with renewed hope to the future.

Under the Catholic Church’s 1980 Pastoral Provision to the Anglican Usage of the Roman Rite, former Episcopalians seeking reunification with the church from which their forefathers split at the time of Henry the VIII are able to retain much of their Anglican liturgical heritage when converting to Catholicism.

It'll be a great day...

August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, is one of my favorite feast days -- not only because of the wonderful mystery we celebrate, but also because of the following:

- On August 15, 1983, twenty-five years ago, I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in San Fernando Cathedral, and the parish, consisting of eighteen people, was canonically erected by Archbishop Patrick F. Flores.

- On August 15, 1987, the High Altar was consecrated and the original church building was dedicated by Archbishop Flores.

- On August 15, 1994, the parish school, The Atonement Academy, opened its doors to students for the first time, for grades K-3.

- On August 15, 2003, Bishop Bernard F. Popp came for the groundbreaking of the high school and the expanded church building, and construction began.

- On August 15, 2006, Archbishop Jose Gomez blessed the new expansion.

Yep. It'll be a great day.

03 August 2008

So that's it?

After all the hoopla, having run up a huge deficit, and spending a couple of weeks talking and talking and talking, the results of the Lambeth Conference are summarized in this statement given today (August 3rd) by Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church:

"Many bishops came to this gathering in fear and trembling, expecting either a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been just the opposite. We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together, and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ. We know more of the deeply faithful ministry of those in vastly differing contexts, and we have heard repeatedly of the life and death matters confronting vast swaths of the Communion: hunger, disease, lack of education and employment, climate change, war and violence. We have remembered that together we may be the largest network on the planet – able to respond to those life and death issues if we tend to the links, connections, and bonds between us. We have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well."

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

They discovered that they're a big network -- in fact, maybe "the largest network on the planet..." Well heck, so's the local Hair 'n' Nails Beauty Shoppe in most small Texas towns. The Presiding Bishop's statement puts me in the mind of Flannery O'Connor's response to someone when they said that the Holy Eucharist is a symbol: "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it."

A big network? To hell with it.

02 August 2008

Three bishops and the Anglican Use liturgy...

Here's a brief video of the opening procession of the Anglican Use Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Gomez, Archbishop Myers and Bishop Vann.

I'll have more video clips from this Mass, which was celebrated at the recent Anglican Use Conference. It certainly was an historic occasion -- the first time three bishops have concelebrated our liturgy.

A guest describes the Conference...

Here's another great account of the Anglican Use Conference 2008, recently held here at the parish:

San Antonio, Texas--The classic arched Anglican red church doors were thrown embracingly wide open, the welcome mat was out and swept clean, the candles were all trimmed and brightly lit, the vivid yellow and white Vatican flag fluttered lazily in a light Lone Star State breeze, the magnificent liturgical vestments were all pressed, pleated and in readiness as a thurible gently smoldered sending whiffs of fragrant incense heavenward. Such was the greeting that the conferees of the 2008 Anglican Use Conference received as they approached their Anglican Use hosts at Our Lady of the Atonement Anglican Use Catholic Parish. And they came...