30 June 2009

Domina Nostra Adunationis

The feast day of Our Lady of the Atonement is on July 9th; however, we'll be transferring it to Sunday, July 12th, so that we can keep it with greater solemnity. Leading up to our celebration of the day, we'll be praying the novena prayers, beginning on Friday, July 3rd.

The Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement

To take part in the Novena:

On each day, if possible, assist at Holy Mass, and go to Confession and Communion at least once during the Novena. The following prayers are recommended to be said daily:

(One Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory be.)

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

We salute thee, Holy Mary, Daughter of God the Father, and entreat thee to obtain for us a devotion like thine own to the most sweet Will of God.

We salute thee, Virgin Mother of God the Son, and entreat thee to obtain for us such union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that our own hearts may burn with love for God and an ardent zeal for the salvation of souls.

We salute thee, Immaculate Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, and entreat thee to obtain for us such yielding of ourselves to the Blessed Spirit, that He may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts, and that we may never grieve Him in thought, word, or deed.

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, have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy upon us.

Our Lady of the Atonement, Daughter of God the Father, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of God the Son, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, standing by the Cross, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, given to us as a Mother, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, our Mediatrix, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, firm Hope, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, sure Refuge, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Divine Love, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Shepherdess of the wandering sheep, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, pillar of Unity, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Conversions, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of the outcast, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Star of the pagans, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of missionaries, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother most sorrowful, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Lily of Israel, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Model of resignation, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Haven of peace, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the afflicted, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Guide of the doubtful, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Welcomer of the pilgrims, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Handmaid of the Father, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mirror of the Son, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Precious Blood, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, true Model, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, strong Protectress, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, hailed by the Archangel Gabriel, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Splendor of Heaven, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Delight of the Saints, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Strength of the weak, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the dying, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, triumphant with Jesus, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Universe, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Children of the Atonement, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
Pray for us, O Blessed Mother;
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. O God, who didst deign that we, thy children, shouldst invoke our Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement; grant that through her powerful intercession we may obtain the fullness of thy blessings; through thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Feast for ears and eyes...

From the first time I ever sat at the console of the small Moeller pipe organ in the little Methodist church of my boyhood, I've had a great love for this "king of instruments." In fact, when I began my undergraduate degree, my major was in organ performance. After a few years I realized that my vocation was leading me in other directions, but music has remained important, and even now I try to find time to sneak off to the organ loft and spend some time on the Casavant.

The churches of Rome have some wonderful organs, not always in the best repair, but many of them have magnificent casework which becomes part of the overall architecture. Here are a few examples which I find particularly beautiful.

Our Lady of Victory, Rome.

St. John Lateran, Rome.

St. Mary Magdalene, Rome.

San Andrea della Valle, Rome.

Chiesa Nuova, Rome.

St. Peter in Chains, Rome.

29 June 2009

A sign of union...

It was a great event today. Each of thirty-four metropolitan archbishops received the pallium from the hands of the Successor of St. Peter, as an outward sign of union with the Holy See, and the authority which accompanies the archepiscopal office.

The pallium is a narrow band of wool, worn over the chasuble, and decorated with six black crosses. It woven from the wool of lambs which are specially blessed on the Feast of St. Agnes at the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls in Rome. On one of our parish pilgrimages several of us were able to attend the beautiful High Mass at which the blessing of the lambs took place.

Decora lux

The beauteous light of God’s eternal Majesty
Streams down in golden rays to grace this holy day
Which crowned the princes of the Apostles’ glorious choir,
And unto guilty mortals showed the heavenward way.

The teacher of the world and keeper of heaven’s gate,
Rome’s founders twain and rulers too of every land,
Triumphant over death by sword and shameful cross,
With laurel crowned are gathered to the eternal band.

O happy Rome! Who in thy martyr princes’ blood,
A twofold stream, art washed and doubly sanctified.
All earthly beauty thou alone outshinest far,
Empurpled by their ourpoured life-blood’s glorious tide.

All honour, power, and everlasting jubilee
To Him who all things made and governs here below,
To God is essence One, and yet in persons Three,
Both now and ever, while unending ages flow.

Latin text by Elpis, 6th c.
Trans. by Msgr. Louis Hall (1844-1911)

25 June 2009

Praying for rain...

The weather here is like a big bully, teasing us unmercifully. For the last year or so, much of Texas has experienced drought conditions, even though during that time we've had the occasional shower. Today, for instance, the temperature here at the parish reached 103 degrees, but now the sky looks dark and the wind is picking up. Will we get a little rain? I doubt it. I was quite the optimist and told everybody they probably should go out to the parking area and close their car windows. Yeah, right. Talk about a wasted trip.

I'm usually pretty careful about "gimme" prayers, but I'm shamelessly begging God for some rain, and I'm asking you to do the same on our behalf. Not a lot, just for some steady rain. The last thing we need is a gully-washer. All that does is cause floods and it runs down the creek beds faster than it can soak in. No, we just need some gentle, persistent rain.

O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom and its righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send us, we entreat thee, in this time of need, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to our comfort and to thy honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 June 2009

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist


BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel; * for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us, * in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophets, * which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies, * and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, * and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham, * that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies * might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him, * all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: * for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people * for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; * whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, * and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
St. Luke i. 68.

23 June 2009

For Sale: Not Cheap

Here's a document that nudged history in a direction which led to schism for a nation, a series of unhappy royal marriages, and martyrdom for many. It's the document written in 1530 by members of the English nobility and clergy, urging Pope Clement VII to declare the marriage between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to be null. The document has eighty-five wax seals attached, of which eighty-one are preserved. The seals are formed from more than six pounds of wax, and each one shows the heraldic symbol and rank of the signer. The Pope didn't grant the annulment, because there were no legitimate grounds for a decree of nullity. That, of course, didn't stop King Henry. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The document, part of the Vatican Secret Archives, is in the news because it has just been meticulously restored. Why now? Because it coincides with the five hundredth anniversary of Henry's coronation. Not only has the document been restored, but exact replicas are being produced. One copy is done, and there will be 199 more made. The good news is that you can buy one. The bad news is that each copy costs $68,000.00.

A pretty expensive legacy, no matter how you look at it.

Something beautiful...

John Rutter's "The Lord bless you and keep you," sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey a few years ago on the occasion of the Royal wedding anniversary. It's one of my favorites.

22 June 2009

A soldier of Christ...

At the beginning of the Year for Priests, pray for the repose of the soul of a faithful servant of Christ. Fr. Timothy Vakoc was an Army chaplain, injured in Iraq in 2004. He died this past Saturday at the age of forty-nine.

It happened on May 29th, which was the twelfth anniversary of his priestly ordination. He had just finished celebrating Mass for the soldiers in Mosul when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. He sustained serious brain injury, and one of his eyes was damaged beyond repair.

At first he was categorized by doctors as being in a "vegetative state," although he progressed and was recategorized as being in a "minimally responsive state." He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Award. Father Vakoc's sister remembers him saying, "The safest place for me to be is in the center of God's will, and if that is in the line of fire, that's where I'll be."

It was nearly two and a half years before he was able to speak again, and just a few weeks ago, in a Mass celebrating the 17th anniversary of his ordination, he was able to sing and follow along with the prayers. He was even able to give a blessing with his partially impaired right arm. But complications set in, and his long struggle ended with his death on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. No doubt, our Lady joyfully received the soul of this brave priest - "a priest forever, after the order of Melchisidek."

Witnesses to the Truth...

Two great heroes of the English Church, forever linked together, are St. John Fisher (1469-1535) and St. Thomas More(1478-1535). Standing for the apostolic dignity of the Church as against secular attempts to undermine its rightful authority, these two shed their blood for their consciences' sake, out of love for Jesus Christ.

We are fortunate to have a lengthy description of St. Thomas More, written by his good friend Erasmus, in letter dated 1519:

"You ask me to paint you a full-length portrait of More as in a picture. Would that I could do it as perfectly as you eagerly desire it. At least I will try to give a sketch of the man, as well as from my long familiarity with him I have either observed or can now recall. To begin, then, with what is least known to you, in stature he is not tall, though not remarkably short. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. His complexion is white, his face fair rather than pale, and though by no means ruddy, a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. His hair is dark brown, or brownish black. The eyes are grayish The eyes are grayish blue, with some spots, a kind which betokens singular talent, and among the English is considered attractive, whereas Germans generally prefer black. It is said that none are so free from vice.

"His countenance is in harmony with his character, being always expressive of an amiable joyousness, and even an incipient laughter, and, to speak candidly, it is better framed for gladness than for gravity and dignity, though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left, especially when he walks. This is not a defect of birth, but the result of habit, such as we often contract. In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend. His hands are the least refined part of his body.

"He was from his boyhood always most careless about whatever concerned his body. His youthful beauty may be guessed from what still remains, though I knew him when be was not more than three-and-twenty. Even now he is not much over forty. He has good health, though not robust; able to endure all honourable toil, and subject to very few diseases. He seems to promise a long life, as his father still survives in a wonderfully green old age.

"I never saw anyone so indifferent about food. Until he was a young man he delighted in drinking water, but that was natural to him (id illi patrium fuit). Yet not to seem singular or morose, he would hide his temperance from his guests by drinking out of a pewter vessel beer almost as light as water, or often pure water. It is the custom in England to pledge each other in drinking wine. In doing so he will merely touch it with his lips, not to seem to dislike it, or to fall in with the custom. He likes to eat corned beef and coarse bread much leavened, rather than what most people count delicacies. Otherwise he has no aversion to what gives harmless pleasure to the body. He prefers milk diet and fruits, and is especially fond of eggs.

"His voice is neither loud nor very weak, but penetrating; not resounding or soft, but that of a clear speaker. Though he delights in every kind of music he has no vocal talents. He speaks with great clearness and perfect articulation, without rapidity or hesitation. He likes a simple dress, using neither silk nor purple nor gold chain, except when it may not be omitted. It is wonderful how negligent he is as regards all the ceremonious forms in which most men make politeness to consist. He does not require them from others, nor is he anxious to use them himself, at interviews or banquets, though he is not unacquainted with them when necessary. But he thinks it unmanly to spend much time in such trifles. Formerly he was most averse to the frequentation of the court, for he has a great hatred of constraint (tyrannis) and loves equality. Not without much trouble he was drawn into the court of Henry VIII., though nothing more gentle and modest than that prince can be desired. By nature More is chary of his liberty and of ease, yet, though he enjoys ease, no one is more alert or patient when duty requires it.

"He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend. He is easy of access to all; but if he chances to get familiar with one whose vices admit no correction, he manages to loosen and let go the intimacy rather than to break it off suddenly. When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life. He abhors games of tennis, dice, cards, and the like, by which most gentlemen kill time. Though he is rather too negligent of his own interests, no one is more diligent in those of his friends. In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More. In society he is so polite, so sweet-mannered, that no one is of so melancholy a disposition as not to be cheered by him, and there is no misfortune that he does not alleviate. Since his boyhood he has so delighted in merriment, that it seems to be part of his nature; yet he does not carry it to buffoonery, nor did he ever like biting pleasantries. When a youth he both wrote and acted some small comedies. If a retort is made against himself, even without ground, he likes it from the pleasure he finds in witty repartees. Hence he amused himself with composing epigrams when a young man, and enjoyed Lucian above all writers. Indeed, it was he who pushed me to write the "Praise of Folly," that is to say, he made a camel frisk.

"In human affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent; if with the ignorant and foolish, he enjoys their stupidity. He is not even offended by professional jesters. With a wonderful dexterity he accommodates himself to every disposition. As a rule, in talking with women, even with his own wife, he is full of jokes and banter.

"No one is less led by the opinions of the crowd, yet no one departs less from common sense. One of his great delights is to consider the forms, the habits, and the instincts of different kinds of animals. There is hardly a species of bird that he does not keep in his house, and rare animals such as monkeys, foxes, ferrets, weasels and the like. If he meets with anything foreign, or in any way remarkable, he eagerly buys it, so that his house is full of such things, and at every turn they attract the eye of visitors, and his own pleasure is renewed whenever he sees others pleased."

There is no similar description of the godly bishop, St. John Fisher; however, in his correspondence, St. Thomas More wrote these words about him:

"I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him."

O God, who didst raise up amongst the English people thy blessed Martyrs St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More in defense of the faith and in witness to the dignity of Apostolic Authority: grant by their merits and prayers; that in the profession of one faith we may all be made one in Christ, and in Him continue to be at one with one another. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

19 June 2009

O Sacred Heart, O Love Divine...

On 15 May 1956 the Venerable Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hauerietis Aquas, and here is a brief excerpt from it:

…the Heart of the Incarnate Word is deservedly and rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that threefold love with which the divine Redeemer unceasingly loves His eternal Father and all mankind.It is a symbol of that divine love which He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit but which He, the Word made flesh, alone manifests through a weak and perishable body, since "in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily." It is, besides, the symbol of that burning love which, infused into His soul, enriches the human will of Christ and enlightens and governs its acts by the most perfect knowledge derived both from the beatific vision and that which is directly infused.And finally—and this in a more natural and direct way—it is the symbol also of sensible love, since the body of Jesus Christ, formed by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, possesses full powers of feelings and perception, in fact, more so than any other human body.

Today there will be many people in and out of the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus here at the parish, spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and giving thanks for the immense love our Lord has for each and every one of us.

O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very Heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love; grant that the devout homage of our hearts which we render unto him may of thy mercy be deemed a recompence, acceptable in thy sight; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

18 June 2009

The real Sacrifice...

From the Holy Father's letter at the beginning of the Year for Priests:

Saint John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “One need not say much to pray well” – the Curé explained to them – “We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to him, let us rejoice in his sacred presence. That is the best prayer." And he would urge them: “Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from him in order to live with him… “Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!”. This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that “it was not possible to find a finer example of worship… He gazed upon the Host with immense love”. “All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass” – he would say – “since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God”. He was convinced that the fervour of a priest’s life depended entirely upon the Mass: “The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!”. He was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice: “What a good thing it is for a priest each morning to offer himself to God in sacrifice!"

As I read that section of the letter, all I could do was say, "yes, yes, yes!" I would imagine most of us priests who are converts had our journey fueled by an overwhelming love for Christ in the Mass. Of course, I can't speak for others, but the moment I began to wonder about the validity of what I was celebrating as an Episcopalian, I knew it was time for me to leave. I mean no disrespect to sincere Anglicans, but I knew I needed the objective Reality found in the tabernacles of the Catholic Church. And even though I was certain of my vocation to the priesthood, if the Church had not confirmed that vocation, I would not have broken stride for a moment in my journey home to the Church. I was a starving child, and I knew where they kept the Food.

And now, to have the unspeakable privilege and joy of celebrating the Mass every day and of bringing Christ the Lord to the people I love... well, it humbles me and it thrills me. As I've said on many an occasion: after more than a quarter of a century as a priest, I still look forward to my alarm going off in the morning.

St. John Mary Vianney, pray for priests...

This small statue and a relic of the Cure d'Ars will remain in our Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for the duration of the Year for Priests. The early morning weekday Masses are celebrated here, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament begins after the Friday morning Mass, continuing until just before the first Mass on Sunday morning.


O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.
O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

That our Holy Father, our bishops and our priests may have the strength of Thy grace, the love of Thy Heart, and the sacrificial spirit of Thine own divine life,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be firm in faith, holy in conduct, and faithful in Thy service,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be filled with the zeal of the Apostles,
the courage of the martyrs, and the spirit of the confessors,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may work to convert sinners, correct the erring, and teach the ignorant,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be strengthened with joy in their labors,
with patience in their sufferings, and with endurance in their struggles,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may have Christian love for little children,
zeal for the education of youth, and loyalty to people and country,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be blessed in their preaching,
faithful in the confessional, and a comfort to the sick,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be preserved from the temptations of the wicked enemy,
from the hostile plots of unscrupulous men, and from all occasions of sin,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

That they may be united with the saints in one faith,
loyal in their service to the Church, and holy at the last,
We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon Benedict our Pope, all bishops and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of Thy grace; and, that they may truly please Thee, pour upon them the continual dew of Thy blessing; Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Year for Priests begins...

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has announced a "Year for Priests" to begin on 19th June 2009, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He inaugurates it with a beautiful letter, which begins in this way:

On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy –, I have decided to inaugurate a “Year for Priests” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the “dies natalis” of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus,” the saintly Curé of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as “friends of Christ”, whom he has called by name, chosen and sent? (read the whole letter here.)

Plenary Indulgence has been announced, and the conditions are as follows:

(A) All truly penitent priests who, on any day, devotedly pray Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament exposed to public adoration or in the tabernacle, and ... offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance, will be granted Plenary Indulgence, which they can also apply to their deceased confreres, if in accordance with current norms they take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. Priests are furthermore granted Partial Indulgence, also applicable to deceased confreres, every time they devotedly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a saintly life and to carry out the duties entrusted to them.

(B) All truly penitent Christian faithful who, in church or oratory, devotedly attend Holy Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to His Heart, are granted Plenary Indulgence, on the condition that they have expiated their sins through Sacramental Confession and prayed in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. This may be done on the opening and closing days of the Year of Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful.

The elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes, may still obtain Plenary Indulgence if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the usual three conditions, “on the days concerned, they pray for the sanctification of priests and offer their sickness and suffering to God through Mary, Queen of the Apostles.”

Partial Indulgence is offered to all faithful each time they pray five Our Father, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri, or any other duly approved prayer "in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to ask that priests maintain purity and sanctity of life."

In your daily prayers, please remember especially all priests.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon all priests the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

16 June 2009

Anglican Use Conference 2009

There are excellent accounts of the recent Anglican Use Conference and the Solemn Mass offered by Cardinal DiNardo, on VirtueOnline:

For three days, framed by a solemn Evensong and Choral Matins and anchored by two Eucharistic celebrations, continuing Anglicans, practicing Roman Catholics and soul-searching Episcopalians came together to rejoice in the unique heritage of the liturgical richness of Anglican liturgy as embraced by the entwining roots of Roman Catholicism, which reaches back beyond the English Reformation to Christ and forward into present day post-modern America. (read the whole article here.)

(There is a place for comments at the end of the article. Keep in mind that VirtueOnline is an Anglican/Episcopalian website.)

Our Lady of Hope Society...

The Anglican Use is being implemented in Kansas City, Missouri, under the name of Our Lady of Hope. They are led by Fr. Ernie Davis, himself a former Episcopal clergyman, now pastor of St. Therese Little Flower Church in Kansas City. You can find out more about Our Lady of Hope Society by going to the website.

St. Paul's Anglican Use in Phoenix

Please pray for the good people gathered under the patronage of St. Paul in Phoenix, Arizona. They're being led by a former Episcopal clergyman, Oliver Vietor, who is now in the Pastoral Provision process leading (we hope and pray) to ordination as a Catholic priest. Oliver was here last year for the Anglican Use Conference, and he was also in Houston this year. He gave an update on their progress, and it was especially good to hear that Bishop Olmsted is very supportive of their efforts. You can learn more about the community of St. Paul by going here.

O thou Lily of Israel...

In the courtyard between the church and school, there is this small but lovely shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, surrounded by a bed of agapanthus plants, known also as the Lily of the Nile, or African lily. They're blooming in full force now, and it makes a pretty site...

15 June 2009

O Sacrament Most Holy...

Here are some pictures from our Corpus Christi procession, which took place at the conclusion of the 11:00 a.m. Solemn Mass. We had Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the outdoor altar which marks the place on which the first Mass was celebrated on our grounds, and then we returned to the High Altar, where Benediction was given in Latin.

Home to Rome...

One of the happy bits of news announced at the recent Anglican Use Conference held recently in Houston was the impending reception into the Catholic Church of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor. Founded at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London, in 1851, they came to this country in 1872 to serve at Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church in Baltimore. The Sisters have been a tiny oasis of catholicity in the Episcopal Church, and recently they have discerned that the Divine Will of God would have them in full communion with the See of Peter.

Here is a brief video of their monastic life, and an indication of what a welcome addition they will be when they are received into the Church on September 3rd.

10 June 2009

Ready for Corpus Christi...

This is the outdoor altar where we'll have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. It's on the site of the first Mass we celebrated on the land where the parish would eventually be planted and where it would grow into what it is today. In fact, the little wooden altar on which the first Mass was offered is now encased within this stone altar. You can read more about it here.

08 June 2009

It is what it is...

There's some very interesting discussion over on Fr. Longenecker's blog. He's been writing about the Anglican Use, and musing about why more Anglicans don't take advantage of what the Catholic Church offers through the Pastoral Provision and the liturgical use found in the Book of Divine Worship.

Many of the comments are very interesting, and they touch on several things. One comment points out that the Book of Divine Worship is just the Catholic Mass "gussied up to look Anglican." Quite true: it is the Catholic Mass. But it's not just "gussied up." It's actually making ancient prayers, expressed in the highest form of our English language, once again an official part of the Church's public liturgy. Very few of the prayers we use are originally Anglican; the vast number of them are centuries-old prayers that had been ripped from their original Catholic home. All we're doing is restoring them to their true context.

Another commenter pointed out that there are some "modern sections" in the Book of Divine Worship, and expressed surprise that we would have allowed such a thing. Indeed, there are some portions which are jarringly modern, taken directly from the Roman Sacramentary. Believe me, that wasn't our choice. I served on the Vatican's special commission which had the responsibility of compiling our liturgical use. If I'd had my way, we would have simply brought in the Anglican Missal with the Gregorian Canon. But since I don't have that kind of authority, it wasn't my decision. All I could do was propose; there were plenty of others on the commission who were more than happy to dispose.

We got what we got, and those of us who pray with this liturgy are delighted we were given as much as we were. And happily, there's some indication that a future revision isn't out of the question.

Eighth grade graduation

Here are some pictures from the Eighth grade graduation Mass.

(above) The procession of the faculty.

(below) The procession of the clergy.

(below) The Eighth grade graduates at Mass

Stating the obvious...

This article titled “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops” was written by Mary Jo Anderson, and first appeared in the February 2005 issue of Crisis Magazine. Here are the eight points, but do read the whole article.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops

1. A bishop must be personally holy.
2. A bishop must promote and defend the authentic Catholic Faith.
3. A bishop must be committed to Catholic education.
4. A bishop must work to strengthen the Catholic family.
5. A bishop must foster vocations.
6. A bishop must love the Mass.
7. A bishop must be willing and able to start from scratch.
8. A bishop must be vocal in the public square.

When it comes to the universal ministry of the Pope, there are few things more important than the appointment of bishops. The essential nature of the place of the bishop has been understood from the earliest years of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing to the Church at Smyrna in about the 111 AD, said this:

"See that you all follow the Bishop, as Christ does the Father, and the presbyterium as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as a command of God. Let no one do anything connected with the Church without the Bishop. Let that be considered a valid eucharist which is under the leadership of the Bishop, or one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the Bishop appears, there let the multitude of the people be; just as where Christ Jesus is, there is the catholic church."

Every time the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, the bishop is prayed for by name; but let’s keep all our bishops throughout the world in our daily prayers. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” and the man who is a bishop has been given the fullness of the priesthood for the guidance, growth and sanctification of all of us.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

06 June 2009

Roll on, sweet summer...

We've had three solid days of graduation events for the Middle School and the Upper School, and I'm humming "Pomp and Circumstance" in my sleep. I'll be posting pictures as soon as I get them, but I do want to mention that Fr. Dwight Longenecker was our Upper School commencement speaker, and he was fantastic! And he has endeared himself to all of us here because he decided that he loves San Antonio, and wants to come back. Which also shows that he's a man with excellent taste. Of course, I tipped the scales a little bit in our favor by taking him to the Riverwalk and plying him with a margarita and some excellent Mexican food.

03 June 2009

"Vows, shmows..."

There has been an abundance of stories written about Alberto Cutié, the Catholic priest who abandoned his vows in a misguided attempt to find personal fulfillment. The following commentary comes from the Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu, Canon for Pastoral Care at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida. It appears on the website of VirtueOnline.org, a site for conservative Anglicans, and I'm including it here, not because I think the subject needs more exposure, but because it's encouraging to know that there are Episcopalians who are as scandalized by this as we are.


"Hey, that Padre Alberto is some 'cutie'. Get it?"

I can't help but think we're supposed to be laughing out loud over this latest attempt at self-promotion by the Episcopal Church.

TEC's latest foray into the public eye is a slight variation on a major theme in postmodern Americana--the Catholic priest who falls in love with the nun next door and lives happily ever after in the Episcopal Church.

Well, that's the normal pattern. The present story is a little off the beaten track, involving a priest and a divorcée. Father Alberto Cutié, affectionately known as "Padre Alberto", was recently received into the Episcopal Church along with his fiancée. The two of them are preparing to make serious vows before God in their new ecclesiastical home: marriage vows for the two of them, and for him priestly vows in the Episcopal Church.

At present we only know one thing about Padre Alberto, aside from the fact that he is related to pop stars and that he hangs out with Miami's glitterati. Those are all externals. What we know about his interior life is, of course, hard to read, and it's not really anybody's business to go passing judgment.

The one thing we know as a matter of fact, not based on anyone's judgment or opinion, is this: he doesn't keep the vows he makes before God.

Of course in the media the flagrant disavowal of vows, particularly religious vows, particularly vows involving sexual fidelity of any kind, and particularly vows made in relation to the Roman Catholic Church--that medieval throwback of counter-revolution and oppression--is a formula for modern day romance.

The present drama is a fascinating variation of the above-mentioned formula: it's about "finding religion" in today's Episcopal Church. It began when local news photographers snapped photos of Padre Alberto and his fiancée "finding religion" on a public beach in Miami.

TEC officialdom is very happy about this "conversion" story, though they're not entirely sure which angle to play up. What is clear to TEC news hounds is that some sort of liberation has taken place, and now they must guide us in rejoicing.

The Episcopal News Service saw this as a classic human-interest story that "resonates worldwide".

"Within the whole Hispanic tradition there is a respect for romance between men and women, and Cutié is a living example of that," comments the Rev. Paul Barton, director of Hispanic church studies at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Funny, I thought Hispanics were traditionally respectful the place of the church in their local communities. Clearly the romance tradition trumps the religious tradition, according to the Episcopal News Service report.

The real drama is how this story resonates with the epic of liberation reverberating amongst the communities of the world's oppressed, or at least among Western intellectuals who have named themselves their spokesmen. Rev. Barton puts his finger on it:

"He is seen in a heroic way, standing up for his right to exercise his sexuality."

Padre Alberto is the new David who mustered supernatural courage in standing up to that ancient Goliath, the Roman Catholic Church, which seeks only to degrade human nature by imposing vows of celibacy on its clergy.

The fact that Father Cutié took a vow of celibacy of his own free will does not enter into this contrived drama. We're not interested in the sort of freedom where people freely act and then are held accountable for their free choices. Those who spout the bourgeois rhetoric of accountability merely seek to exploit the labor of the masses.

This is the era where shaking your fist at any authority for any cause is equated with liberating the downtrodden--at least it is by tenured professors and pensioned clerics in America's cultural mainstream.

I can't say I blame the good Father for wanting to live a non-celibate life. I'm happy that he has found a soul mate. I hope things work out for the two of them. I hope his wife-to-be eventually finds she can take him at his word.

I have no interest in judging Father Cutié for breaking his vow to the Church. Here's my problem. If someone breaks a promise on Monday and makes the same promise again on Tuesday, it is not possible for me to believe his second promise. It has nothing to do with judging him. It is possible to forgive him for breaking his promise, but it is not possible to believe the next several promises he makes, particularly if they reinforce the perception that he is acting out of pure self-aggrandizement. The burden of credibility is on him. Such a conclusion is not a moral judgment but the only possible interpretation of his own actions.

All this could change. God Himself may intervene in the life of this gifted and well-intentioned media zealot and shake him to the core. He may become known as a giant of integrity and a man of his word. But that won't happen the same week he makes headlines for fondling a woman in a public place and then launches a strategy to recover his reputation.

If there's any scandal in this story, it has nothing to do with illicit romance or broken promises. The scandal is the rapacity of the Episcopal Bishop of Southeast Florida in milking the spotlight for the purposes of his own ambition. It is scandalous that he thinks so little of the public that they can be fooled by empty words like "inclusiveness" in explaining the meaning of what is only too obvious.

Both Bishop Frade and Father Cutié have much to gain by their new alliance. The good Father gets to practice his profession and enjoy an increased notoriety in his elite circle of friends. The Bishop gets to stand in the shadow of a global celebrity and be hailed as a liberator of the oppressed merely for dribbling platitudes. Rarely have two human beings ever gained so much at so little personal cost and risk.

Who knows, maybe both these men will get religion someday. Unfortunately, it would take a long time before anyone could believe it, even if they wanted to.

02 June 2009

Final Mass of the academic year...

Today was the last day of classes at the Academy. We celebrated the final Mass of the school year, with our eighth grade boys serving at the Mass. It was a grand celebration, and a very beautiful end to the school year. Here's a picture of the recession at the conclusion of the Mass:

These are our graduating eighth grade boys, gathered for "one last picture" after serving at Mass: