27 February 2009

Sweetest wood and sweetest iron...

We just finished the Stations of the Cross, the first time for this year, so there's no doubt that Lent has well and truly begun. I always love praying the Stations, and there was a special feeling for me this time, having walked the Way of the Cross so recently in Jerusalem.

The whole school gets together every Friday afternoon during Lent for the Stations, and it always strikes me how simple it is, and yet how powerful. There are no gimmicks, nothing entertaining -- just the prayers, readings from the Scriptures, and the pure voices of children singing the verses of a hymn as the crucifer leads the clergy from station to station.

We'll have the fancier version this evening for the whole parish, with all the stops pulled out: Solemn Evensong, Stations of the Cross, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It really is breathtakingly beautiful. But the simple Stations in the afternoon with the children are pretty special.

26 February 2009

The postcard campaign against FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) has been going on for some weeks now in Catholic parishes across the country. Our bishops have endorsed the effort, and the response has been terrific. I know that several hundred cards have been sent from our parish, and we're one of the small ones.

Here's an excellent article by Susan E. Wills, who is the assistant director for education and outreach of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. The abortion industry needs FOCA, and many of those who are involved in the murder of the unborn are getting nervous that the anti-FOCA campaign just might be successful.

Why fight FOCA now? Read the article and find out.

25 February 2009

Lenten prayer...

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 February 2009

Alleluia, dulce carmen

We buried the Alleluia this morning. At least, we sang our farewell. I'm posting some pictures from the Mass.

The box was prepared and waiting at the entrance to the church. As the students came in, each one put an "alleluia" in.
Two of our eighth grade boys carried the alleluias in the procession, and the box was placed near the altar, where it remained during Mass.

As we sang the ancient hymn "Alleluia, dulce carmen" the alleluias were taken in procession to the Lady Chapel.

The box containing the students' "alleluias" was placed before the image of Our Lady of the Atonement, where it will remain until the Easter Vigil.
Everyone was impressed with the ceremony of "Burying the Alleluia," and I'm glad we've instituted this custom as part of our preparation for Lent. I've always tried to make a big deal about "no more alleluias" when I've spoken to the children about various Lenten practices, and this really emphasizes it.

I remember a conversation I had a few years ago, just after Lent had begun, with one of our very young students. He asked if he could see me because he had to tell me something. When he came to me, he wanted to tell me what one of the other boys had done earlier that day. It sounded serious, so I encouraged him to tell me about it. In a half-whispered voice the offence was reported: "He said the 'A' word!"

Ash Wednesday schedule...

Masses will be celebrated at 7:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. There will be the blessing and imposition of ashes at all the Masses.

23 February 2009

Burying the Alleluia...

It used to take place on the eve of Septuagesima Sunday, but since we don't have the "Gesima Sundays" any more (more's the pity), we've moved the farewell to the alleluia to the day before Ash Wednesday.

Tomorrow at the 9:15 a.m. Mass all the students will bring the "alleluias" they've written and place them in a large wooden box, which will be processed to the Lady Chapel after Mass. We'll make our farewell until we welcome the Alleluia back at the Solemn Vigil of Easter.

Alleluia, abide with us today, and tomorrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia ; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia.

May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word, resound to God's praise from the lips of all people.

May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as sung by the voices of believers.

And may that which noiselessly gleams in the citizens of heaven, yield fruit in our hearts by ever growing love.

May the Lord's good angel go with thee, Alleluia ; and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

Let us pray. O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

21 February 2009

What they didn't want you to see...

This ad was rejected by CNN and NBC, both networks which have in the past broadcast "pro-choice" ads.

18 February 2009


Our sports program is an important part of the classical and Catholic education we offer at the Academy, and last evening was my first time to watch our wrestling team in action. They're pretty darned good!

The guy on top (he won, by the way) is our own Dominic King -- wrestler, choir boy, altar server, and all-round good kid.

I can't tell which one of our boys this is -- but he looks like he's got the best of his opponent.

After watching this sport for a while, I came to realize that it's not just brute strength. There's real skill and talent involved.

Anyway... congratulations, guys!

17 February 2009

2009 Anglican Use Conference

2009 Conference of the
Anglican Use Society

June 11-13, 2009

A Goodly Heritage:
The Future of the
Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church

Hosted by

His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, S.T.B, S.T.L.
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Fr. James Moore, Ph.D.
Co-founder and Pastor Emeritus of
Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church
Fr. John Saward, M.Litt. (Theology)
Greyfriars Fellow & Associate Lecturer of Blackfriars at Oxford University,
Parish Priest, Catholic Church of St. Gregory; St. Augustine, Oxford,
Author of numerous books,
The Beauty of Holiness (1996)
and Sweet and Blessed Country: The Christian Hope for Heaven (2005)
Mary C. Moorman, M.A., J.D.
Apologist, author, consultant,
Ph.D. candidate
for more information, please visit

"Turn frequently to the sacrament of confession..."

A little girl explains it all...

She's explaining the horror of abortion in terms so simple even a child can understand, because she's a child herself. Twelve years old, and already robbed of her innocence.

I hope she grows up to be influential, maybe a university president or even a senator. And I hope, if it's God will, that some day she marries and has children of her own, children who will be raised with the same respect for the sanctity of life.

But for now, I really wish she could just be twelve years old and innocent again. Sad to say, most of our society's decision-makers have taken that option away.

16 February 2009

Through the Pope's eyes...

Ever wonder what life looks like through the eyes of the Holy Father? This is what he'll be seeing this Wednesday at noon:

UPDATE: The Vatican released a statement about the Holy Father's words to Senator Pelosi and those with her at the audience...

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

I hope that made her eyes get even wider.

And here's George Weigel's take on the meeting.

"Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit..."

This past Saturday, our Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to nearly a hundred candidates. A few pictures from the day...

15 February 2009

The letters are starting to come...

It's that time of the academic year. Admission letters are beginning to roll in, and the excitement mounts among our students.

Two of the Academy's seniors, Danny Cruser and Brittany Weems, are shown here meeting with the college counselor, Mr. Ralph Johnston, to review their admission letters from the University of Notre Dame. Both were named as Notre Dame Scholars, an honor reserved for the most highly qualified of those admitted, and both will be attending the Reilly Weekend in South Bend as guests of the university.

Brittany, the class valedictorian, plays on the varsity volleyball team, is a National Merit Finalist, and is an Advanced Placement Scholar With Distinction.

Danny is captain of the varsity basketball team, a National Merit Commended Scholar, and an Advanced Placement Scholar With Distinction.

Congratulations to them both!

13 February 2009

Field of Dreams...

Ok, so maybe right now it looks like a Field of Dirt. But we've begun the construction of our new athletic field. It will accomodate baseball, football and soccer. This, combined with our excellent gymnasium, will give our students -- and the whole parish -- access to a wide range of sports activities.

We're hoping to have the construction done within the next few weeks. Then we need to establish grass, put in an irrigation system, install backstop and fencing, and the list goes on...

I'm beginning to understand that sports ain't cheap.

12 February 2009

Soldiers of Christ...

One of our bishops will be here on Saturday morning to celebrate the Mass according to the Anglican Use, and to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to ninety-two of the Faithful. Also at that Mass several of our children will be receiving First Holy Communion. Fr. Connors and I have been hearing confessions day after day, helping everyone to get ready for the occasion.

A few years ago our parish returned to the restored order of the Sacraments, which means that Confirmation is administered before First Holy Communion, preceded by the Sacrament of Penance. All this takes place when a child reaches the age of reason (age seven, usually in the second grade). Also for these past few years we have scheduled this to take place just before Lent begins, allowing all the newly-strengthened soldiers of Christ to take a fuller part in the penitential season.

Please do pray for them. It'll be a great day!

09 February 2009

Lunch, anyone?

Above: My son Nathan, ever the intrepid connoisseur of fine dining, gets ready to dig in.
Below: Lunch, up close and personal
As we were travelling around the Sea of Galilee, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant owned by a Christian family. Of course, the "must-try" item on the menu was St. Peter's fish (better known to us as talapia). I'd had it before, on a previous pilgrimage. My impression the first time I ate it was that it's a lot of work for little return, and my first impression proved to be correct. It tastes great, but seems to be more bone than flesh. Plus, getting past the staring eyes takes a strong constitution.

This kind of fish was made famous by Christ's direction to St. Peter, found in St. Matthew's Gospel:

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, "Does not your teacher pay the tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?" And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."

Interestingly, the St. Peter's fish has been observed rummaging around at the bottom of the water near the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, picking up various items, including bottle caps and other shiny things. Our Lord used this natural tendency in conjunction with His divine Will, thus providing St. Peter with the temple tax.

03 February 2009

It's definitely dead!

(above) My son, Nathan, with me on the shore of the Dead Sea
(below) Encrusted rocks at the shore
The Dead Sea gives new meaning to the word "dead." We stopped by on our way back to Jerusalem after visiting Masada. There's nothing in that water. No fish. No plants. Nothing. Even the air feels heavy (probably because it's about 1,300 feet below sea level), although there is a strange beauty when the mineral salts crust over the rocks around the edge of the water.

A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

That's a lot of throats...

St. Blaise was kept pretty busy around here today. More than seven hundred throats blessed... and I haven't heard a single cough since.

Mass at the Tomb

This is a brief video of part of the Liturgy of the Word from the Mass we celebrated at the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of our parish readers, Stephen School, read the Lesson, and Deacon James Orr read the Gospel. For those of you who haven't visited there, we are just outside the Tomb during this video, and then the deacon and I went into the Tomb itself for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.