Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Translation to be Released Soon?

This letter was posted in the Daily Bulletin of the Vatican Press Office

Dear Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.

I wonder if this is a sign the new translation is going to be approved and released soon? Is it possible that we'll have things in place to start using it this Advent? I know I'll be ready and will be able to educate my parishes by then. The only people in my parish who will not understand the new translation will be those who are willfully ignorant.

Can you tell I'm getting excited?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some Thoughts on Communion

It is interesting the discussions that take place over time in the life of the parish. Some of the conversations are first hand, and others tend to come to me via a more remote process.

One such conversation that has been taking place in the parish relates to an experience of a parishioner who was traveling over Easter. They had attended the Vigil Mass in Florida. At communion time, the priest made it clear that only Catholics, an only those in good standing in the Church, could come up for communion. The parishioners were put out by the fact that the priest would make such an announcement.

At dinner last night, a similar conversation took place. We were talking about why a priest might make such an announcement. This is especially troublesome to some because other priests invite everyone to come forward. Is it any wonder that people are confused?

Also yesterday a couple of parishioners were talking about an experience the week before of confirmation and 1st communion. Our retired bishop was talking to one of the candidates and reminded him that he should not be eating potato chips right before Mass. His teacher asked what the problem was about. When the bishop explained about the hour fast before communion, she indicated that she did not know that fasting was a requirement.

I’d like to go back and discuss a little about the announcement by the priest in Florida. Why does the Catholic Church not have, what other churches call, “open communion”? Perhaps this reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church will help us understand the answer to the question.

1384The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

1385To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."(1 Cor 11:27-29) Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.

1386 Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed."). And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

1387 To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. [Code of Canon Law #919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine. §2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them. §3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.] Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

1388 It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions, receive communion when they participate in the Mass. As the Second Vatican Council says: "That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended."

1389 The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily. (1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In his encyclical letter, Sacramentum caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI stated

The Synod Fathers rightly stated that a love for the Eucharist leads to a growing appreciation of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Given the connection between these sacraments, an authentic catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist must include the call to pursue the path of penance. We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God's love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God's mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful. Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism. For this reason, Reconciliation, as the Fathers of the Church would say, is laboriosus quidam baptismus; they thus emphasized that the outcome of the process of conversion is also the restoration of full ecclesial communion, expressed in a return to the Eucharist. (Sacramentum caritatis EN 20)

It is clear from the above that one puts his soul in danger when he comes to communion unworthily. In the same token, the pastor who is responsible for the souls of his flock, is neglecting his duties if he does not advise those not in the state of grace about this danger. The pastor who refuses to call these situations to the mind of his flock not only jeopardizes their souls, but his own. This being the case, it is easy to understand why a priest would announce the need for the gathered congregation to truly examine their mortal state. On occasions such as Easter and Christmas, when many of those gathered are there for the first time in a long time, we can see the added need of making this known. Many of those who are gathered have not been practicing the faith and it is probably that many do not understand that they should not be coming forward for communion.

Of course, if a First Communion teacher does not realize the requirements for fasting before communion, it is probable that there are many other Catholics out there who do not understand the need for confession before communion if they are in the state of mortal sin. I often wonder what our kids are taught in many of our Religious Education programs. I’m guessing it is not a sense of the sacred that exists in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is clear that we need to pray for the Church and for all Catholics that they may understand the gift we receive in Holy Communion and the proper disposition one should have when coming forward.


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope quoted the theme of this year's World Day, "witness awakens vocations", noting how it is "closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons.

"The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer", he added, calling on parents to pray that "their children's hearts may open to listening to the Good Shepherd", because He alone "protects His flock with immense tenderness and defends it from evil, and in Him alone can the faithful place their absolute trust".

The Holy Father continued: "On this day of special prayer for vocations, I particularly encourage ordained ministers, stimulated by the Year for Priests, to feel a commitment 'to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world'; to remember that the priest 'continues the work of redemption on earth'; to pause 'frequently before the tabernacle'; to remain 'completely faithful to their vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism': to make themselves available for listening and forgiveness; to undertake the Christian formation of the people entrusted to their care; and to cultivate 'priestly fraternity'".

After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI turned his attention to two priests, Angelo Paoli and Jose Tous y Soler, today proclaimed as Blesseds in, respectively, Rome and Barcelona, Spain. The former was an "apostle of charity in Rome, nicknamed the 'father of the poor'. He dedicated himself particularly to sick and convalescent people in the hospital of San Giovanni".

Jose Tous y Soler, founder of the Institute of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, despite numerous trials and difficulties, never allowed himself to be overcome with bitterness or resentment. He stood out for his exquisite charity and his capacity to bear and understand the shortcomings of others", said the Pope.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homily for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Here is this week's homily.

Today, this “Good Shepherd Sunday”, we are celebrating the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I would like to share with you a few thoughts from Pope Benedict’s Message to commemorate today’s celebration.

When talking about a response to the call to priesthood or consecrated life, Pope Benedict offers three primary thoughts to keep in mind. I would argue that these would also apply to all who are called to single life, and especially married life.

First, our Holy Father reminds us that “a fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ.” We are reminded that Jesus had a close communion with his Father. Observing this was an inspiration for His disciples which inspired them to seek the same type of a union. As Pope Benedict continues, “Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have ‘seen’ him personally, come to know him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.”

The second item is a complete gift of one’s self to God. Even in marriage, spouses give themselves to God so that there are not two involved in the marriage, but three. It is the witness of sacrifice and service that is an inspiration to others who are listening for their call from God. Priests and consecrated persons, living that example of service is a draw to many who are looking for a deeper meaning in their lives. When others see the faithfulness of spouses to each other, centered around a life of faith, they are inspired to search for same commitment if they are called to marriage. The complete gift of self to God allows God to work through us when calling others to a vocation.

The third aspect mentioned by our Holy Father is communion. “Jesus showed that the mark of those who wish to be his disciples is profound communion in love: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35)” It is important that into whatever vocation God may be leading us, we work on building that communion through love of one another.

Pope Benedict reminds us that, “every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness.” All married couples, by being open to life and sharing in the love Christ makes present within their marriage is also an inspiration that can help others understand that universal call to holiness.

As Pope Benedict sums up his message, “May this World Day once again offer many young people a precious opportunity to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust and complete openness. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, watch over each tiny seed of a vocation in the hearts of those whom the Lord calls to follow him more closely, may she help it to grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity.”

I want to encourage all of you to set aside some additional time to day for prayer in order to pray for vocations, especially vocations to priesthood and consecrated life.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New website to help laity and clergy promote vocations

This is from the Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2010 / 03:43 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops are preparing to launch a website to help laity and clergy promote vacations. The site aims to help individuals “hear and respond” to God’s call to the priesthood or consecrated life. Scheduled for an April 25 launch, the website will host discernment resources for men and women, and aids for promoting a “vocation culture’ within the home, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a press release.

A range of tools for educators, youth leaders and vocation directors include prayers, videos, best practices, lesson plans and vocation awareness programs.

Following the theme for the 2010 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, “Witness Awakens Vocations,” the site also hosts videos of priests and religious men and women giving witness to their call to the priesthood or religious life. Testimonies from family members are also included.

The USCCB says the site exemplifies the Vatican’s “embrace” of new communications media. It cites Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 44th World Day of Communications, in which he challenged clergy to use the “latest generation” of resources to put the media “ever more effectively at the service of the word.”

The launch of the site will be promoted through social media forums, with Facebook users allowed to become “eVangelizers” for the site.

The April 25 launch coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday. is a project of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. A Spanish-language version of the site will be available this fall at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Homily for Third Sunday of Easter Year C

This is the homily I presented for this weekend

Today’s gospel reading appears to be a followup to our passion readings where we hear of Peter’s denial. As we reflect back a couple of weeks we remember Peter denying Christ three times, “I tell you, I do not know the man.”

In today’s Gospel, we hear Christ asking Peter, “Do you love me?” three times. “You know that I love you” is the response we hear back from Peter with a response from Jesus to feed or tend the lambs and sheep.

Much is entrusted to Peter at this point. Not only is Jesus receiving an affirmation of Peter’s love, but he is giving Peter a mission.

On June 29th, 1959, Pope John XXIII, who would later call for the Second Vatican Council, released an encyclical entitled “Ad Petri Cathedram”, (To the Chair of Peter). In his encyclical, John XXIII tries to help us understand a bit more about this mission given to Peter and his successors.

That there is unity in the administration of the Catholic Church is evident. For as the faithful are subject to their priests, so are priests to their bishops, whom «the Holy Spirit has placed ... to rule the Church of God.» So, too, every bishop is subject to the Roman pontiff, the successor of Saint Peter, whom Christ called a rock and made the foundation of His Church. It was to Peter that Christ gave in a special way the power to bind and loose on earth, to strengthen his brethren, to feed the entire flock.

Pope John XXIII’s encyclical helps to understand a bit more clearly the hierarchical nature of the Church in passing on the faith and reaching out to the world. There is a sign of unity in respect to the relationship of all within the Church, the Body of Christ.

In the Second Vatican Council Document “Lumen Gentium” (Light to the Nations) we hear additional teaching in this regard.

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth". This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

Later on, in this same document we hear,
But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock.

As we hear today’s readings, it is important for us to realize what a great privilege it is for us to be part of the flock of Christ, knowing that he has sent faithful shepherds to guide us on our pilgrim way. Christ also warns that there will be other shepherds who will try to take the flock. They will try to lead them away from the shepherd that he has entrusted to care for them. There are times when these shepherds even exist within the hierarchy of the Church. Most of them have good intentions, but have lost a sense of unity within the whole church.

Sometimes they throw out suggestions that the Church is moving backwards. If they follow the actual teachings of the Church and their development, they find that they have gone beyond what the Church teaches and when she tries to reel them back in, the rebel. When I am looking at books for reading about the Church, one of the first things I do is take a look at the footnotes, or endnotes. If they tend to quote magisterial documents, I tend to put more credence in what the authors have to say. This is one way to make sure I am staying in union with the Church established by Christ. Sometimes the texts make frequent use of other sources, some of them sources known for questioning magisterial teachings. These texts are often not useful in building up the true Church, but are divisive, causes of confusion.

Christ has appointed Peter and his successors to shepherd, feed and tend the flock entrusted to them. Let us have faith that He will fulfil his promise to Peter earlier in the Gospels. “You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the nether world will not prevail against it.” Tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election as Pope. Let us keep him, and our bishops in our prayers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Come By The Hills - Celtic Thunder

I am impressed with Celtic Thunder. Damian does a spectacular job singing.

He was 14 when this was recorded

I wanted to post something a little less serious and more enjoyable :)

Catholic Clergy Stand With Peter and Defend Pope

HARRISBURG, PA (April 1, 2010) – On this Maundy (Holy) Thursday in which the Church celebrates the institution of the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy publicly stands with Peter and defends the person and office of Pope Benedict XVI. A national association of priests and deacons committed to ongoing formation (spiritual, theological and pastoral), the CCC declares our total loyalty, support, confidence and fraternity with the Successor of Saint Peter, Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ. We condemn and repudiate the slanderous attacks on the Holy Father and we encourage all the faithful (laity, religious and clergy alike) to join us and stand with Peter as did the early Church in the time of the Apostles. The secular press and media are supposed to REPORT the news and allow the public to DECIDE. Instead, we see conjecture, innuendo, false inferences, distorted facts, and many details taken out of context so as to promote an agenda of hatred and deceit for the Catholic religion. Ironically, the same media which demonstrates a hypersensitivity to not offending non Judaeo-Christian faiths by not printing offensive cartoons of Prophets and other religious founders, nevertheless, shows no restraint in making specious allegations against the spiritual leader of more than one BILLION Catholic Christians around the world.

Terrorists and other violent criminals are afforded a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in the press and media yet when it comes to the Pope, especially Benedict XVI, we rarely see the disclaimer “alleged” printed or spoken before a series of accusations are leveled against him. Lacking incontrovertible evidence, the media frenzy is nothing short of a bunch of sharks circling the water after smelling blood. They seek to devour former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. Sexual abuse of children is a grave evil no matter who is the culprit, be they priest or parent, minister or rabbi, teacher or coach, sibling or neighbor. Any instance of abuse is inexcusable and detestable. Abusers should be punished.

However, the current clarion call for ‘transparency’ must be taken in context. Forty and fifty years ago, the buzz word was ‘discretion.’ Families were discreet when a fellow family member was known or suspected to be a pedophile. Today, we learned the hard way that discretion was not the proper solution, yet, back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, everyone kept a lid on child abuse, whether it occurred in the house, at school, in the gym, on a camping trip or God-forbid in the rectory or parsonage. Some police and school administrators kept silence as did some bishops when they should have acted more vigorously. Society in general and not just Church leaders had to learn to no longer be quiet about child abuse. Furthermore, psychiatry and psychology were not the keepers of the panacea, the cure for all mental illness. Bishops were not the only ones given false hope when sex offenders were released after so-called ‘successful treatment.’ Today, everyone knows serial abusers are incurable and must never be allowed anywhere near children. Half a century ago, modern mental medicine told us otherwise.

The yellow journalism and anti-Catholic propaganda seen in some attacks on Pope Benedict, from demands for his resignation to convening an ‘inquisition’ rival the same rhetoric once found in the former Soviet news agency, TASS, or in the vitriolic ranting of Nazi Josef Goebbels. All reputable reporters, journalists, and news people need to distance themselves from the tabloid tactics of some of their colleagues. We need responsible reporting that does not color the facts, merely reveals them. We need balanced analysis and fair treatment given to every person and every religion. Instead of connecting dots that do not exist or instead of making outlandish accusations of elaborate Vatican conspiracies as found in pulp fiction, the world deserves to be treated more intelligently. Instead of throwing stones, how about giving both sides of the issue in showing mistakes AND progress; in telling the corrective measures now being taken as well as the sins committed in the past?