Friday, November 30, 2007

Liturgical East

"Where a direct common turning toward the East is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior 'east' of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community....Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than the Lord? This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible."

Cardinal Ratzinger - better known as Pope Benedict XVI.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Infrequent Posting

I have hardly had a moment to even think about posting - and as posting about nothing would be exceedingly dull, perhaps a ten day - or even two week gap is a good thing. The other thing is that everytime I feel like posting, I have to write one of my columns for the newspaper, and that somewhat dulls the enthusiasm. The parish has had a tough week or so, - the death of an eighteen year old, killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Very faith-filled family - very full Church for the funeral - but, as any of my priest readers will know, that kind of pastoral work is both distressing and amazingly draining. That funeral was swiftly followed by another one - then the visit of the Bishop to bless our new reredos. I am also organizing our next speaker for our Clergy Continuing Education - the world famous Father George Rutler will be coming in two weeks to give a day of recollection. During the last week, my good friend Father Stephen De Kerdrel visited from the Mull of Kyntyre in Scotland (picture above). He is a hermit, and we have known each other for 26 years, having studied together and been in the Capuchins. It was very nice to have a visitor from home - to talk about old friends - of course, now that he has departed, it makes me somewhat homesick and the house feels particularly empty. So far, I have not received many invitations into the homes of the parishioners, but given the silly schedule, I probably couldn't go anyway! There are all sorts of good things happening - I am very encouraged by the strong desire for adult education - more than 50 people every Thursday night for the RCIA - but plenty of 'challenges' - not to be described to protect the innocent! Talking with Father Stephen, it was good to hear that everything we might think of as unique to Vermont in the Church is happening at home - good and bad - and the encouragement of a man who spends six hours a day in prayer and has battled incredible trials over the last 7 years - helps one to keep going - especially with his profound historical understanding of the current battle in the Church between the dying forces of a decayed liberalism, as Cardinal George, the new President of the US Bishops recently said - and the truth of orthodoxy. More encouragement was given by the new Papal MC - and the Pope's recent words on music and the liturgy. Father Stephen drew my attention to the words of Archbishop Ranjiith, soon to be the new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and a key BXVII appointment, about the "rebellion" of some bishops. Father Stephen believes that the schism is very near - possibly within the next year or two. Now, more than ever, reading some good Church history is essential.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saviour of Catholic Spain

Today is the anniversary of the death of the saviour of Catholic Spain, El Caudillo - General Franco. The rumour is that the new anti-Catholic Spanish government wants to dig up his tomb in the Valley of the Fallen and turn it into a theme park.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Feast of St. Josaphat

Tomorrow, November 12th, is the Feast of the great saint of the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church, St. Josaphat. It is also the thirteenth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Little did I know on that cold, wet day in St. Thomas' Church in Canterbury in 1994 that, thirteen years later I would be somewhere much colder (the first snow is expected tomorrow evening - what a joyful anniversary gift). Much has happened over those thirteen years - watching the Religious Order I joined implode because of heterodoxy, loose morals and loss of direction. Becoming a diocesan priest, accepting that service as a priest is not about the promotion of one's personal opinions - who cares? - but fidelity to the message of Christ, in season and out of season. Things I wish I had known when I was ordained? 1.) Courage and fidelity are more important in preaching than popularity. 2.) The only label that matters is orthodox or heterodox - and that a priest's salvation depends on it. 3.) The only mark of a successful priest is how many of his parishioners get to Heaven - not something measurable in this life - and that endless meetings, 'programs' (American English- sic), and being "busy about many things" are really subtle Pelagianism. 4.) That devotion to Our Lady and the Saints is absolutely necessary for the priestly life. 5.) As Fr. Richard John Neuhaus has said: "fidelity, fidelity, fidelity."

We haven't had one of those meme things for a long time - so, for any "ghostly father" readers - particularly Father John at South Ashford Priest, Father Justin at Nova et Vetera and the upside-down Father Dwight - what are the things you wish you had known at your ordination?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bishop to celebrate Extraordinary Rite

Just found out the excellent news that our Bishop, Salvatore Matano, is going to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass will be at St. Joseph's Co-Cathedral in Burlington. Our Lady, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the Patroness of our diocese. If this Mass is anything like the first Mass that Bishop Matano celebrated for the Assumption, it should be standing room only. It also fulfills the Holy Day obligation, so any readers in the area should make every effort to attend. Bishop Matano has asked me to set in motion some training for the priests of the diocese who wish to learn the Extraordinary Form - as I'm one of them, I think the first thing to do is get the special kit that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is producing. We all need to get our 1962 Missals - Altar Cards - Server training guides - that's before learning anything!

I'm off on my annual retreat this week - totally silent - prayers please!