28 September 2012

St. Wenceslaus, King & Martyr

St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep commitment to the Christian faith.

Throughout his life he lived as a completely faithful Catholic. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. He himself frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor.  He ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy. With his own hands he planted the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints.

Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia.

His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.

O God, who through the victory of martyrdom didst exalt thy blessed Saint Wenceslaus from his earthy principality to the glory of thy heavenly kingdom: we pray thee, at his intercession, to defend us against all adversities; and to suffer us to rejoice in his eternal fellowship; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

27 September 2012

For the praise of God...

Here's a nice look at the Nave Organ, which contains fourteen ranks of our fifty-rank organ.  This division of pipes is located midway between the sanctuary and the main organ loft in the back.

26 September 2012

Pictures from St. Matthew's Day

Here are some pictures from last week's Latin Mass on the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

25 September 2012

Requiem aeternam

It was a year ago today that our former Headmaster, Ralph Johnston, suffered a stroke which led to his death some months later.  A Requiem Mass is offered today for the repose of his soul, and a beautiful Russian icon which belonged to him, and which was given to us by his widow, will be dedicated and hung by the lectern.  It depicts Our Lady of Kazan, and is adorned with a gold oklad (also called a "rizza") which protects the icon and gives it added dignity.

22 September 2012

Our Six Parish Choirs

In addition to the many choirs at The Atonement Academy, the Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement has six choirs which provide music on Sundays and for special occasions. These choirs are off to a great start this season, and there are still some openings for additional singers in several of these groups.

St. Nicholas Children’s Choir
Open to girls in grades 3-5
Sings for the 9:00 AM Mass on Sundays as scheduled
(approximately once per month)
Rehearsals - Thursday afternoons from 3:30- 4:10 PM

St. Cecilia Youth Choir
Open to girls in grades 6 through high school
Sings for the 9:00 AM Mass on Sundays as scheduled
(approximately once per month)
Rehearsals - Thursday afternoons from 4:15-5:00 PM

St. Augustine Boy Choir
Our newest parish choir!
Open to boys in grades 3-8 (unchanged voices)
Sings for the 9:00 AM Mass on Sundays as scheduled
(approximately once per month)
Rehearsals - Thursday afternoons from 3:30-4:20 PM
We currently have a waiting list for the Boy Choir!

Our Lady of the Atonement Adult Choir
Open to high school age (10th grade) and older
Sings for 11:00 AM Mass on Sundays
as well as for Holydays, seasonal Evensong services,
and special liturgies scheduled throughout the year.
Rehearsals - Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00 PM

Saint Gregory Schola Cantorum
Open to men of high school age and older (by audition)
Sings for the Sunday 6:00 PM Latin Mass
Rehearsals – Sunday afternoons at 5:00 PM

Our Lady of the Atonement Festival Choir
Designed for those who cannot make a year-round commitment to weekly rehearsals, but who have a desire to be involved in the parish music program. With the members of the adult choir as its core, this choir sings for special services throughout the year including Nine Lessons and Carols, the liturgies of Holy Week and seasonal Evensong services. Rehearsals are held on select Thursday evenings during the weeks preceding scheduled events.

For more information, please contact Mr. Murray at emurray@atonementonline.com.


You can read the latest issue of the CRUSADER BULLETIN by going to this link. You'll find information about academics, sports, music, community involvement -- and, of course, a report about our school being selected as one of the top fifty Catholic high schools in the nation! 

The Atonement Academy -- where faith and reason come together!

20 September 2012

We're pleased to announce...

The Atonement Academy has, once again, been included in the list of the top fifty Catholic high schools in the nation.

The announcement was made at a press conference by The Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization whose purpose is to support quality Catholic education. The Honor Roll was begun in 1994 by The Acton Institute, and is now administered by The Cardinal Newman Society because of its specific apostolate in the area of Catholic education.

Each school is assessed in the following areas:

• Catholic identity
• Academics
• Civic Education

There are some schools which excel in one or two of these areas, but only fifty in the nation are honored for excelling in all three, and the Academy is one of them.

The members of the National Collegiate Advisory Board, who are the trustees of this national award, include Sr. Mary Sarah Galbraith, OP, President of Aquinas College, John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, Rev. Terrence Henry, President of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Thomas Keefe, President of the University of Dallas, and the Presidents of Benedictine College, DeSales University and Christendom College.

The National Policy Advisory Board, which oversees the standards, also includes a list of distinguished educators from several national organizations dedicated to authentic Catholic education, including the Catholic Education Foundation, directed by Fr. Peter Stravinskas, the Covington Latin School, and the executive director of the National Association of Private, Catholic and Independent Schools, among others.

In giving The Atonement Academy this award, these distinguished people have recognized the accomplishments which have been achieved through God’s grace, and through the intercession of Our Lady of the Atonement. Some of the best minds in the Catholic world have looked upon our Upper School, and found our work here to be exemplary and outstanding.

The Administrators and Faculty of The Atonement Academy have worked very hard to maintain the demanding standards required in order to be given this award, which serves as an assurance that our students are receiving an excellent and authentically Catholic education.

17 September 2012

St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop & Doctor

Born in the year 1542, Robert Bellarmine's family was large and relatively poor. His mother was especially devout and was given to works of charity, fasting, and regular prayer. Young Robert learned these things from her, and never forgot them. As a very young man he entered the Society of Jesus, and was eventually ordained. He had a tremendous gift for preaching, and was also a notable scholar, going on to teach at the University of Louvain. The Church recognized his faithfulness and his intellectual brilliance, and after a time he became a bishop, and was named a Cardinal.

He never forgot the lessons he learned at home, and his charity to the poor was manifested in the fact that even though he lived in a Cardinal’s palace, he ate the same food as the poor would eat, he dressed in rough clothing, and he even stripped the plush curtains and tapestries from the walls to sell them and gave the money to the poor. As he said, “The poor can catch cold; the walls cannot.”

He lived at the time when the Protestants were causing great dissension in the Church, and St. Robert Bellarmine used his considerable talents in presenting Catholic truth, and helping others to see the errors of protestantism.

He knew the best way to keep the Church strong was to make strong Catholics, and he compiled an important catechism for teachers and students. In fact, it was his work with the young that gave him the most satisfaction, and he had an immense effect on the lives of the students who learned from him. One the most famous of his students was a young man named Aloysius, who eventually was himself raised to the altar, and is known to us as St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

St. Robert Bellarmine – a great man who never forgot his humble beginnings, and who loved the Church and worked for her unity.

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. Robert Bellarmine, 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.

15 September 2012

"Atonement" and "Sorrows"

The Atonement Pietà
There is a close relationship between our own title "Our Lady of the Atonement" and the title "Our Lady of Sorrows."

Fr. Paul of Graymoor, who with Mother Lurana of Graymoor, founded the Society of the Atonement in 1898 while they were Episcopalians, wrote in 1919 about the title of "Our Lady of the Atonement," and its correlation to "Our Lady of Sorrows."

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 (Eph. 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." [Jn.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." (Jn.2:10)

14 September 2012

Mater Dolorosa

The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(One Our Father, Seven Hail Marys, while meditating on each Sorrow.)

The Prophecy of Simeon concerning the Infant Jesus. (St. Luke 2:34)
The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (St. Matthew 2:13)
The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (St. Luke 2:43)
The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way to Calvary. (St. Luke 23:26)
The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (St. John 19:25)
The Descent from the Cross, with the body of Jesus placed in Mary's arms. (St. Matthew 27:57)
The Burial of Jesus. (St. John 19:40)

O God, who didst will that in the passion of thy Son a sword of grief should pierce the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary his Mother: Mercifully grant that thy Church, having shared with her in his passion, may be made worthy to share in the joys of his resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A most beautiful Feast...

The Great Rood at Our Lady of the Atonement Church

Today's Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was nothing short of magnificent. The day began with a Low Mass in the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart. At mid-morning we celebrated a Sung Latin Mass, and with the students, joined by parishioners, it meant we had a congregation of more than 650 for the second Mass.

The Young Men's Schola chanted the Propers, and during Holy Communion the Honors Choir sang Stainer's "God So Loved The World" with such sensitivity and dynamics that it really was breath-taking.

The rafters were raised when the everyone sang the hymns, accompanied by our wonderful Casavant pipe organ -- "Lift High the Cross," "At the Name of Jesus," and "Crown Him With Many Crowns."

Afterwards the Lady Chapel was filled with those venerating the Relic of the True Cross, and there were visitors to the Chapel throughout the day.

In the afternoon the students assembled for Solemn Evensong. Incense was still in the air from the morning Mass, but we added yet more as we chanted Evensong together.

As I said, it was a most beautiful feast...

The Relic of the True Cross at Our Lady of the Atonement Church

10 September 2012

The Paschal Sacrifice

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.
Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
- I Cor. 5:6b-8

Yeast (leaven) makes bread rise, but it is a kind of bacterium, so it also corrupts, and as St. Paul says, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” St. Paul’s point is that one sin can spoil the whole person, and even the wider community, both within and as seen by others.

The only way to assure that there is no corruption is to become a fresh batch of dough. Through baptism, we are unleavened – the stain of original sin is washed away, and we’re given grace to enable us to avoid sin. Through our baptismal consecration, we have been made a holy people, a people set apart for God. Because of that, we must constantly strive to become what God intends us to be, which means that we are to eliminate those corrupting influences which compromise the integrity of the consecration which took place at our baptism.

And what has made us “unleavened”? We are unleavened – we are like a fresh batch of dough – because the true paschal lamb, Jesus Christ, has been sacrificed. In the old rites during Passover the lambs were sacrificed, and St. Paul reminds us that in Christ’s death and resurrection, He is the fulfillment of the Jewish Passover.

In fact, Jesus – the true Passover Lamb – is the perfection of the sacrificing of the lambs in the temple at Passover. The lambs which were sacrificed in the Temple were only a reminder that the time had come for the Jews to clean out all leaven from their homes; the sacrificing of the lambs did not actually accomplish the cleansing of the leaven. But the sacrifice of Christ the true Passover Lamb actually casts out the leaven – the corruption of sin – and makes us “a new creation.” By His sacrifice we are made into a kind of pure, unleavened bread, ready to serve Christ in this world, and finally to be with Him in heaven.

09 September 2012

Some of our altar servers...


A picture of several of our altar servers...  Will we ever be able to get them all together for one single picture?  Probably not on this side of heaven!

06 September 2012

Oath of Fidelity

Each year the administrators and faculty of The Atonement Academy make a public oath of fidelity to the Catholic Church and her teaching. This is done during the Mass, and in the presence of the students. It's an important way of promising to be faithful in living and teaching the Catholic faith.

It will be taking place on Friday, September 7th. Usually we do it on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but because that falls on a Saturday this year, we've moved it up a day.

+ + + + +

+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words I speak or in the way I act.

With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the responsibilities by which I am bound in relation both to the universal Church and to the particular Church in which I am called to exercise my service according to the requirements of the law. In carrying out my charge, which is committed to me in the name of the Church, I shall preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth. As a result, whatsoever teachings are contrary I shall shun.

I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the whole Church and shall look after the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith or established by them as the Church’s rulers. And I shall faithfully assist diocesan bishops so that apostolic activity, to be exercised by the mandate and in the name of the Church, is carried out in the communion of the same Church.

May God help me in this way, and the Holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hands.

+ + + + +

I'm asked frequently what is the "secret" of the success of our parish school. It's really quite straightforward. The education we offer is of the highest intellectual calibre, imparted always in the context of the Catholic faith, and strengthened by the daily celebration of Holy Mass with the regular use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Good advice...

[Jesus] said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."

- St. Luke 5:4,5

Or, as King David puts it in the Psalms,

Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it.

- Psalm 127:1

04 September 2012

St. Cuthbert, Bishop and Confessor

St. Cuthbert, one of the great saints of Britain, was born in Northumbria in about the year 635, at about the same year in which St. Aidan founded the monastery on Lindisfarne. He was raised as a Christian, and in his youth he spent time in military service, and also seems to have spent time as a shepherd.

His life changed when he was about 17 years old. He was tending sheep out in the hills, and looking into the night sky he saw a great light descend to earth and then return, and he believed that a human soul was being taken to heaven at that moment. The date was August 31, 651, the night of the death of St. Aidan, who was the great bishop and monk of Lindisfarne. This became Cuthbert’s time of decision for the future of his life. He immediately went to one of the monasteries, Melrose monastery, which had been founded by St. Aidan, and requested admittance as a novice.

For the next 13 years he was with the Melrose monks. At that time Melrose was then given land to found a new monastery at Ripon, and Cuthbert went with the founding party and was made guestmaster of the new foundation. After serving in that capacity for a time, St. Cuthbert returned to his original monastery and was appointed as Prior of Melrose.

After a time, St. Cuthbert moved to Lindisfarne and settled into the life of the monastery. He became an active missionary, and he was very much in demand as a spiritual director. He was an outgoing, cheerful, compassionate person and no doubt became popular. But when he was about forty years old he believed that he was being called to be a hermit and to dedicate himself completely to prayer. He moved to a remote island, where he remained for another ten years.

He was not destined to remain in the life of a hermit. When he was about fifty years old, he was asked by the Church to leave his hermitage and become a bishop, and he very reluctantly agreed. For two years he was an active, travelling bishop, and he journey far and wide ministering to those under his spiritual care.

Finally, feeling that death was approaching, he retired to his old hermitage where, in the company of Lindisfarne monks, he died on March 20, 687.

The 4th of September is kept as a commemoration of St. Cuthbert in remembrance of the transference of his relics to Durham. With the invasion of the Vikings near the end of the 9th century, the body of St. Cuthbert was taken from Lindisfarne by the monks to a new location for safekeeping, until finally arriving at the place known as “Deer’s meadow,” or “Durham,” where a chapel was built for the relics, and this chapel marked the place where the great Durham Cathedral now stands.

Almighty God, who didst call St. Cuthbert from following the flock to be a shepherd of thy people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from thy ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead them back to thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

01 September 2012

Same place, different look...

Here's a picture of the sanctuary and nave of Our Lady of the Atonement Church on the first Sunday we celebrated Mass here, which was in May of 1987. The altar is now in the Sacred Heart Chapel, and the folding chairs are in the St. Anthony Hall.

Here's the sanctuary and nave today. It's amazing what a little paint and some woodwork can do!