30 July 2010

Mass in my hometown...

This is Immaculate Conception Church in New Hartford, Connecticut.  Although it's in my hometown, I never set foot in it until I was ordained as a Catholic priest, since I wasn't raised in a Catholic family.  It's been my privilege, however, to say Mass at Immaculate Conception when I've been back for visits, and I was there this past week.

It's built in the Carpenter Gothic style -- an architectural style I find absolutely lovely, and which was quite popular in the late 19th century, as the "poor man's answer" to the glorious gothic structures that were being built in stone.  Rural areas especially found this style to be not only affordable, but it used the considerable talents of local carpenters and woodworkers.


I've been in Connecticut for the past several days.  My mother had a slight stroke, which caused no paralysis, but affected her sight and generally weakened her sense of balance.  My two brothers and I were able to make arrangements to have her back in her home, with round-the-clock help for the time being.  She's already regaining both sight and strength, and we're all confident that she'll make a full recovery.  Thanks to all of you who have kept her in your prayers.

I'm heading back to Texas.

25 July 2010

Have a look at this...

from St. John Nepomuk, St. Louis, Missouri.

Anglican Patrimony is a blog you're going to like, and I wager you'll visit it regularly once you've been there.  From Cardinal Newman to liturgical matters, from ethics to the finer points of folded chasubles, you'll find something about it here. 

The contributors are Anglicans, but I wouldn't bet on them remaining so after Anglicanorum coetibus is implemented.

24 July 2010

9th Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

- St. Luke 11:1-13

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy, that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

23 July 2010

"The Past Is Future"

That's the title of a brief article I wrote for the Anglo-Catholic blog.  It's about bringing the Anglican patrimony into the Ordinariates, therefore allowing it to be a living and growing thing.  Anyway, if you want to read it, go here.

The Crusader Times

The special summer issue of the Crusader Times is posted on line, and you can read it by going here.  There's lots of information about the new academic year, including the schedule of opening events, necessary supplies, uniforms, etc.  Also, there's information about the Washington/Baltimore trip for 7th and 8th graders.  The faculty list is available, and you can learn more about several projects we've completed over the summer.  We'll have the largest number of students in our history, and we give thanks to God for the tremendous growth He's given to our school.

You can explore the whole website of The Atonement Academy by going here.

20 July 2010

Sagrada Familia

Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is one of the great architectural wonders of the world.  Still under construction, it is the crowning achievement of Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926), a truly devout Catholic known as "God's architect."  The Holy Father will be visiting Sagrada Familia in November to celebrate the opening of a portion of the interior of this remarkable building.  The following interview appears on the Zenit website.

By Patricia Navas

BARCELONA, Spain, JULY 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit to the Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a message to the world of the transcendent meaning of Antoni Gaudi's famed church, says Joan Rigol of the Sagrada Familia Foundation.

The Pontiff will visit Santiago de Compostela on Nov. 6 for the Jacobeo Holy Year, and go to Barcelona the next day to consecrate the religious monument that has been declared patrimony of humanity. Construction on the church began in 1882, and it is expected to be completed by 2026. A portion of the building's interior, however, is set to be opened this year.

In this interview with ZENIT, Rigol explains the details of the preparation for the papal visit, as well as the construction of a train tunnel near the church that could threaten the structure.

ZENIT: What is the significance of Benedict XVI's visit to the church?

Rigol: For us this signifies an ecclesial dimension seeing from the highest point of its representation, which is the Pope, and above all it indicates the universal projection of the Holy Family in the Christian realm.

The message of the Holy Family, through architecture and culture, is a transcendent message: a call to universal fraternity.

This central message of Christianity -- of treating all persons as brothers and sisters -- should at the same time be projected to persons that do not have this sense of faith, but who also feel solidaristic in universal fraternity.

The Pope's coming confirms this message at the world level from the cultural and artistic point of view, especially the call to universal fraternity.

ZENIT: How are you preparing for this event?

Rigol: First, we are now completing the interior of the church, which follows the guidelines and definition that Gaudi made of the interior; he left a very precise model of how he saw the interior.

Probably at the end of July everything will be ready to await the coming of the Pope on Nov. 7, so much from the material point of view.

In addition, we are appealing to Christians to receive the Pope. The archbishop of the diocese and the commission he has created are in charge of this aspect.

Because the coming of the Pope is not centered solely and exclusively on the Holy Family, but is also a meeting of Christians that live in Barcelona, in Catalonia and in Spain.

A trip of this kind has its organizational complexities and all of us are working intensely on this.

ZENIT: Do you know what authorities will be present at the ceremony of the blessing of the church?

Rigol: We are being given information on this, but still at a somewhat formal level. The official information will come at the appointed time, which I estimate will be in September.

The monarchs of Spain have already announced their intention to be at the Sagrada Familia Church, and we know it is the desire of the government of Spain and of the authorities of Catalonia. What cannot be specified is the exact name of the persons who will attend.

ZENIT: How many people do you expect that day in the Holy Family Church and its surroundings?

Rigol: I am not able to give these figures yet. However, inside the church there is room for between 7,500 and 8,500 people, depending on the degree of security that we give at the entrances and exists, which must be the highest.

Around the church there will be a device so that people will be able to follow the ceremony from the surroundings of the building.

We don't know how many people can come, but we are preparing for many.

We are organizing it so that those who wish to follow the ceremony up close can be placed in the best possible position.

There is a building very close to the church's main facade, but there are also two very large squares and an intersection of important avenues, so that there is considerable space for people.

ZENIT: At what stage are the work on Sagrada Familia?

Rigol: There will be some details to be attended to in the interior, because the works create dust. In this connection, we have reserved August to do some things, such as getting the organ ready, which must be done at a time when nothing is being built inside because silence is needed.

Once the interior is finished and the church is open for its specific functions, the building of the Holy Family will continue according to Gaudi's plan, and this could take between 15 to 20 years.

Yet to be built are the towers of the evangelists, the main tower, which will be 172 meters (564 feet) high and the four buildings of the nave, one on each side, where the sacristies and chapels of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be located. This is a project for the future generation.

Between the towers of the four evangelists and of Jesus Christ will be the tower of the Virgin, which will be higher than that of the evangelists but lower than that of Jesus Christ. The towers of the evangelists are already being built.

ZENIT: In what way is the construction of a tunnel near the church, through which a high-speed train will pass, affecting or might affect the structure?

Rigol: We have technical studies of very qualified people that state that the AVE's project entails risks, mainly in two great areas.

First, the basement of the Holy Family is a geologically complicated terrain, and a transformation of the terrain could be generated that in the long run might mean a very significant movement for Gaudi's project, which is one of great litheness and height.

Second, the vibrations that might be transported and that on reaching 172 meters height might mean a risk.

Given the risk of this project, we have thought of two possibilities: In the first place, to try to speak with the administration, but we have not been able to agree on what we consider a risk.

(above) exterior view of Sagrada Familia
(below) closer exterior view of window

Fr. Noel's First Mass...

I've mentioned before about the wonderful experience I had in Pittsburgh last month at the ordination and first Mass of Fr. Brian Noel.  Here are a few pictures from that occasion.

(above) Fr. Noel as Celebrant, at the elevation of the Chalice.
(below) Preaching at the first Mass, in the pulpit of St. Paul's Cathedral.

(below) Clergy and Servers, with Fr. Noel, on the steps of St. Paul's, Pittsburgh.

Mentioning God...

William Blake, The Ancient of Days (God as an Architect), 1794.

As is so frequently in the news, here's another case of a sensitive soul being offended by the mere mention of God:

by Todd Starnes

The fate of a high school banner deemed “unconstitutional” by the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union may be in the hands of local school officials.

The banner, according to the Providence Journal, invoked “Our Heavenly Father” to help students at Cranston High School West conduct themselves appropriately.

Well, that drew the ire of an unnamed parent who filed a complaint with the ACLU.

Steven Brown, the executive director of the state ACLU, penned a letter to the school superintendent, calling the banner illegal and requested that it be removed from Cranston High School West and any other school that might have a prayer posted on public property.

“I understand that this prayer may have been posted in the auditorium for a long time,” Brown wrote. “However, the crucial protections of the Bill of Rights have been around even longer.”

He said the unnamed parent was “extremely concerned and troubled upon observing the display of a prayer on the wall of the auditorium.”

Brown asked the local school committee to be sensitive to the “divisiveness of government-sponsored displays promoting religion.”

The school committee is set to discuss the fate of the banner on Tuesday – behind closed doors.

I really don't see what the problem is.  They've got plenty of diversity going on here -- after all, God is being mentioned on only one banner on one wall.  There are lots and lots of walls where He's not mentioned at all.  Seems perfectly fair to me.  After all, religious folks could have asked for equal billing...

18 July 2010

This week's Collect...

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion, we beseech thee, upon our infirmities, and those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; mercifully give us for the worthiness of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

14 July 2010

St. Bonaventure

It was said of St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) that he was "...a unique personality. He was unsurpassed in sanctity, wisdom, eloquence, and gifted with a remarkable skill of accomplishing things, a heart full of love, a winning disposition, benevolent, affable, pious, charitable, rich in virtue, beloved by God and man. . . . The Lord endowed him with such a charming disposition that everyone who saw him was immediately attracted to him."

Considered to be a "second founder" of the Franciscans, he was an outstanding teacher, and a spell-binding preacher.  He was known for his virtue and wisdom.  He is known as the "Seraphic Teacher" because of his deeply mystical understanding of the Faith.

O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant St. Bonaventure, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of St. Bonaventure.

Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and super substantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.

May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fullness of the house of God; may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverance to the end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably. Amen.

13 July 2010

Ambassadors in the marketplace...

The members of the San Antonio chapter of Legatus will be at the parish this evening for Mass, and afterwards I'll be speaking to them about the Anglican Use, the Pastoral Provision, and Anglicanorum coetibus.

This is from the Legatus website:

Since the inception of Legatus on May 7, 1987, its mission has been to bring Catholic business leaders and their spouses together in a monthly forum that fosters personal spiritual growth.

The organization offers a unique support network of like-minded Catholics who influence the world marketplace and have the ability to practice and infuse their faith in the daily lives and workplaces of their family, friends, colleagues and employees.

Groups such as Legatus have an important role in the Church, by assisting the laity to take seriously the responsibility of every Catholic to know and practice the Faith, and to influence the world by living in accordance with the Truth revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ.

10 July 2010

"Born of the Virgin Mary..."

Vestment embroidery, Our Lady of the Atonement.

 "...we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
- Romans 5:11

09 July 2010

An interesting article...

I really like this article, published on the Catholic Culture website:

by Phil Lawler

A friend recently told me about a very prominent individual who has begun taking instruction in the Catholic faith. He apparently wants to do this quietly, and I’ll honor his wishes by not revealing his identity. If he continues down the path to Rome, the story will become public soon enough.

The point is that despite all the bad news, despite the assaults on the Church and the maladroit official defenses, people still feel that pull: the tug on the fisherman’s line. The parishes may close, the budgets may not balance. Disaffected “cradle Catholics” may leave by the hundreds. But there are still those lines at the Easter Vigil. There are still those intelligent souls, searching for truth, seeing the light and following it despite the encroaching shadows.

We joke about it: “Come on in; the water’s freezing!” Yet it’s not a joke at all. Being a Catholic is the worst thing in the world—except not being a Catholic. It’s tough to live in a Church plagued by scandal. It’s easy to become disgusted. But…
Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." [Jn 6:66- 69]
In the end it’s not about the scandals, it’s not about the public debates, it’s not about the policies and the budgets and the statements and the personalities and the seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of human folly and sin. It’s about Jesus the Christ.

People misjudge the Church because they gauge the strength of Catholicism against the models set by political parties and business corporations and public-relations agencies. Look—I’m not saying anything that you don’t already know—our Church leaders are utterly incompetent at politics, at business, and at public relations. The worldly-wise observers know that, and so they wait, confidently expecting that Catholicism will collapse. They’ve been waiting for 2,000 years. They’ll be waiting until Christ comes again. Because the Church will not collapse. And Christ will come again.

The political and economic and public-relations issues cannot be dismissed. The Church is dealing with human beings, and these practical considerations are terribly important. But they are not the essence of the faith. In fact, they constantly threaten to distract attention from what is essential or, worse, to tempt people into compromising the essential for the sake of the inessential.

In its essence the Church is a mission. You might say a missionary institution, and I wouldn’t argue, because certainly the Church is an institution. But as soon as you use that word “institution,” you introduce all those potential distractions. An institution must address its own internal needs, whereas a mission is oriented toward a goal. An institution is a thing; a mission is an action. The Church in her essence is an action: a fishing voyage, a harvesting operation. The Church was founded not to care for her own needs—important though they may often be—but to bring souls to Christ.

Oddly enough, despite all the problems, the mission continues. By practical, worldly measures, the Catholic Church is in a tailspin. Yet the converts keep coming. The wise men keep looking—and finding the treasure they seek in a stable that the world despises. The fishermen may be bunglers, but the lure still works.

Today's Feast...

July 9th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement; however, we're transferring it to Sunday so we can keep it with greater solemnity.  We'll be finishing the novena tomorrow in preparation for Sunday's Masses, and we'll also have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament after the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Masses.  The Mass schedule will be as usual: 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. (all Anglican Use liturgy) and 6:00 p.m. (Latin, Ordinary Form).

The Collect:
Deus, qui dispersa congregas, et congregáta consérvas: quæsumus, per intercessiónem beatíssimæ Vírginis Maríæ, Dóminæ nóstræ Adunatiónis, super ecclésiam tuam uniónis grátiam clementer infunde; et Spíritum Sánctum in totam múndi latitúdinem defunde ut omnes unum sint; per Dóminum nostrum Jésum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sáncti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

O God, who dost gather together those who have been scattered, and who dost preserve those who have been gathered together: We beseech thee through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement, that thou wilt pour out upon thy Church the grace of unity and send thy Holy Ghost upon all mankind, that they may be one; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Fr. Paul of Graymoor wrote these words about the title in 1919:
I am writing this letter on the day which we are accustomed to observe at Graymoor in special honor of Our Lady of the Atonement. This particular name of Our Blessed Mother is very dear to us and we believe it is dear to Our Lady herself. We hold it as among the most treasured and sacred traditions of our Institute that it was the Blessed Virgin who first taught us to call her by that name and there are cogent reasons why she should give this title a favorite place among the many by which she is invoked.

First among these reasons must be her own devotion to the mystery of the Atonement, for it was by the death of her son on the Cross, which cost him the last drop of his blood and made her preeminently the mother of sorrows, that the wall of division between God and man was broken down and both were made one (Ephesians 2:14), through Christ's atoning sacrifice.

As the Blessed Virgin is inseparably associated with our divine redeemer in the mystery of his incarnation, so is she closely associated with him in the great act of the atonement. Thus, is she always represented in the Gospel and in the liturgy and thought of the Catholic Church as standing by the cross, when Christ was crucified there.

There is a second reason, hardly less weighty than the first, why the title, Our Lady of the Atonement, should powerfully appeal to the mother of God. It was through the Incarnation she become the mother of Christ, but through the atonement she became the new Eve and the mother of all the regenerate, who being redeemed by the precious blood are predestined to eternal life as the adopted sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The third time Our Lord spoke upon the cross it was to emphasize this phase of the Atonement, when he said to his mother: "Woman, behold your son," and to St. John, "Son, behold your mother." [John 19:26-27] Thus by virtue of the atonement Mary is the mother of all who live through Christ. Can anyone therefore possibly conceive the depth of significance this title "Our Lady of the Atonement" must possess for Our Blessed Mother herself?

But someone will ask, if so highly esteemed, why should it be kept hidden for nineteen hundred years, to be made known to the faithful in the twentieth century? Is it not the custom even of earthly mothers to preserve the choicest fruits in the summer time and hide them away under lock and key, to bring them forth to their children's delight in the depth of winter and did not the master of the wedding feast say to the bridegroom at Cana,

"Every man at first brings forth good wine and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But you have kept the good wine until now." [John 2:10]

"My ways are not your ways," [Isaiah 55:8] says the Lord of Hosts.
Stabant juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, et soror matris ejus Maria Cléophæ, et Salóme, et María Magdaléne. Múlier, ecce filius tuus: dixit Jesus; ad discípulum autem: Ecce mater tua.

08 July 2010

New oil painting commissioned...

To mark the historic nature of the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus, we have commissioned an oil portrait of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, depicting him signing the Apostolic Constitution.  The artist is Leo Garza, one of our parishioners, and a respected artist in the San Antonio area. 

The picture here is just a quick snapshot I took, but we hope to have professional photographic copies made for parishes or others who might like one.

A glimpse of Cardinal Newman...

These wonderful videos were made by Corpus Christi Watershed, and I've shamelessly lifted them for your enjoyment. Cardinal Newman will be beatified soon, and surely his prayers are instrumental in the establishment of the Ordinariates as outlined in Anglicanorum coetibus.

The Cardinal's Personal Chapel from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Birmingham Oratory Church from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

The Oratory Church and Prayer from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

St. Philip Shrine Chapel from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Birmingham Oratory Library from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Consecration to Our Lady

O ever Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady of the Atonement; Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost: we consecrate ourselves anew to thy service and to that of thy Divine Son. We beseech thee to enlighten our minds and inflame our hearts; to obtain for us a deep faith, a strong hope and a burning love; that through sanctifying grace, the source of our reconciliation with God, we may live the life of the Gospel as we have promised; that we may use the things of this world as though we used them not; that the great Atonement of thy Son upon the Cross may be more and more fruitful in our souls.

We beseech thee to look ever more graciously upon the Church, which thy Son has founded, and upon His Vicar on earth, our Holy Father. Obtain light and strength for him in his many endeavors for the glory of God. We beseech thee to be gracious to our Parish which invokes thee under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement. May it be ever pleasing to God and to thee. May it ever work for the glory of Christ and the salvation of mankind. May it grow and prosper. May it ever seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. May each and every member be fruitful in every good work and pleasing in all things to the Heart of thy Son.

Lastly, we beseech thee to obtain for all men the grace of a true and lasting conversion to God; that the prayer of thy Divine Son may be the sooner fulfilled: “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Amen.

06 July 2010

The Novena goes on...

We've passed the half-way mark in offering the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement, and there's something comforting in going to our Blessed Mother each morning, asking her to pray in a special way for our intentions.  All those beautiful titles -- Firm Hope, Shepherdess of the Wandering Sheep, Pillar of Unity, Lily of Israel -- the titles go on and on, and each one an expression of prayerful love for her, the Mother of God and our Mother. 

Each of us has personal intentions we bring to the novena, but the big one -- the General Intention -- is for the speedy implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus.  Of course, we ask that it be in God's time, but I cannot help but hope His time is soon.  Not so much for us in this parish, of course.  We're already safely in the Barque of Peter.  But there are so many who are standing just outside Peter's door.  Their hearts are already inside, and they're eager to be in full sacramental union with the Vicar of Christ. 

The intitial numbers won't be huge -- in fact, I wrote an article about that on the Anglo-Catholic blog -- but for those who are ready to complete the journey now, they're packed and waiting.  And what a day it will be, when we're finally together, in full communion, in the one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church. 

Let's pay attention...

Tough as it is sometimes, it pays to listen to our wind-bag politicians once in a while.  I'd been hearing a certain phrase lately, and hadn't really thought it through, until I read an article by Matt Warner in the National Catholic Register.  It clicked with me, and made me realize that we really need to pay attention.

Have a look at this:

Obama Supports Your Freedom to "Worship"?
Politicians use their words strategically and intentionally (at least when they think the mic is on). And that’s got a lot of people worried about a recent trend in the language being used by the Obama Administration regarding our freedom of religion.

It seems that Obama and co. would much rather refer to your Constitutional right to freedom of religion as simply your right to “worship.”

“Freedom of worship” first appeared in President Obama’s November remarks at the memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting. Days later, he referred to worship rather than religion in speeches in Japan and China.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the shift in language. In a December speech at Georgetown University, she used “freedom of worship” three times but “freedom of religion” not at all. While addressing senators in January, she referred to “freedom of worship” four times and “freedom of religion” once when quoting an earlier Obama speech.

Although it may seem reasonable to think otherwise, the choice of words is no semantic coincidence. And it is no insignificance.

It represents an organized campaign to redefine and muddle our religious freedoms as popularly understood in the cultural narrative. And it reflects the Administration’s disdain and lack of respect for religion.

Our freedom of religion is not just a freedom to worship - but the freedom to practice.

See, practicing a religion is not just something we do in a worship service on Sunday. It’s not a string of trivial ceremonies we do out of respect for our culture or family tradition. It’s not something that is (reasonably) done half-way. It’s something that permeates every aspect of our lives. It effects how we run our businesses, hospitals, charities and organizations. It effects what we will and will not do in our employment. It effects our local communities, civil laws and political positions. It effects what we say, what we buy, what kinds of behavior are acceptable and healthy, how our children are educated and how we engage in the public debate to control all of these things. It effects everything.

The idea that we can separate the role our religion plays in all of these things is ignorant nonsense. Yet, that is precisely what Obama and his ilk expect you to do.

Many people at this point will disagree with me and insist on a “separation of Church and State.” First, these people have a fundamental misunderstanding of what is meant by the “separation of Church and State.” Second, every communal or collective aspect of society involves competing interests. My interests (religiously motivated or not) are just as valid as anybody else’s. It’s illogical absurdity that a point of view backed up by thousands of years of reasoned wisdom is confined to private “worship” and unwelcome at the public table, but the drivel of a malformed conscience fueled by self-absorption and a sensationalist media is just one of the many wonderfully diverse inputs.

We need to pay attention to this kind of talk.  We've seen how pretty words can easily mesmerize the crowds, and what sounds harmless -- even noble -- might not be.

04 July 2010

Announcement from the Academy...

The Atonement Academy Announces Waiting Lists

Enrollment for the 2010-2011 academic year has passed 500, and we receive additional admission inquiries daily. For the first time ever, we have added a third classroom of Kindergarten and a third classroom of Second Grade.

We are now building waiting lists for High School Freshmen, for 8th Grade Girls and for 6th Grade Boys. The Seventh Grade Boys and the expanded Second Grade classes are quickly approaching capacity. Limited space remains available in other grades.

So that we may devote our best efforts at the beginning of the school year to serving families who have timely enrolled, there will be a moratorium on enrollments beginning JULY 24 and continuing through AUGUST 16. (The first day of classes is August 11.) Our ability to process applications and enrollments on August 17 will depend on the volume of requests we receive. PLEASE plan ahead and complete your admission and enrollment if you have not already done so.

The American Madonna

The title of Our Lady of the Atonement is tied intimately to our own country in a way which cannot be said of any other title of the Blessed Virgin. In Rome, Our Lady of the Atonement is known as the “American Madonna,” first of all because this title had its origins in this country, at Graymoor, New York; also, her colors are our national colors: red, white, and blue. It is no coincidence that the birthday of our country always falls within the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement, reminding us to pray for our nation, that all may know our hope and strength come from what is represented in this image of the Blessed Virgin: the loving Mother of God, offering to us her Divine Son, who holds in His hands the holy Cross as the means of our salvation.

03 July 2010

A Prayer for our Nation

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

02 July 2010

St. Thomas the Apostle

At that time: Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
- St John 20:24-31

Everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle St. Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

01 July 2010

Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement

The Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement is on July 9th. In this parish we transfer it to the nearest Sunday so we can keep it with greater solemnity. This year we will celebrate it on Sunday, July 11th. The Novena leading up to the celebration begins tomorrow, July 2nd.  In addition to your personal intentions, the general intention this year is "for the establishment of the Ordinariates as outlined by the Holy Father in Anglicanorum coetibus."

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 decade of the Rosary
(One Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory be.)

Memorare of St. Bernard
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.

The Three-Fold Salutation
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.

The Litany
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, should 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.

Blessed Junipero Serra

Statue of Blessed Junipero Serra, located in the National Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C.

Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy saints, and didst raise up thy servant Blessed Junipero Serra to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth thy praise, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.:

In 1776, when the American revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. Born on Spain's island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of Saint Francis' childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was thirty-five, he spent most of his time in the classroom-first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of Saint Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero's desire was to convert native peoples in the New World.

Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero's left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross, often life-threatening, the rest of his life. For eighteen years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there.

Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two conquistadores-one military, one spiritual-began their quest. Jose de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the nine-hundred-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for Saint Joseph's day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived.

Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luis Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra's death.

Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous "Regulation" protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a "Bill of Rights" for Native Americans.

Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts — a move that has brought cries of "injustice" from some moderns.

Junipero's missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight until dawn. He baptized over six thousand people and confirmed five thousand. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.