Saturday, May 22, 2010


I just ran across this post from a former classmate. Although it was written almost three years ago, it is still relevant today.

Pope Benedict XVI has just made it possible for any priest in the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the Mass of the Roman Missal 1962. That is to say, the priest is now able to celebrate Mass in Latin with a special ritual that resembles the older Mass ritual performed before 1965. For a point of reference, rent any movie that deals with Catholicism (usually something with either the Devil or the Mafia in it) and most likely the Mass will be Latin.

The instruction (motu proprio) is available in Latin and English here.

You will notice at St. John here in Oxford, we use Latin quite a bit during our Masses. However, we do not do the so-called "Latin Mass". The Mass we celebrate is called the "Novus Ordo" Mass and this Mass has been the "ordinary" Mass for the Catholic Church since the 1970's.

So what's up with the Latin at St. John's?

Normally, we use Latin sparingly during the Mass. The parts most likely that are in Latin are:

Kyrie: "Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison" which means "Lord, have mercy" and "Christ, have mercy". The words are actually Greek and the chant form we use is used throughout the world. For nerds, "Kyrie" is also used on many video games as background music such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. But I've said too much.

Sanctus: This is also known as the "Holy, Holy" in English. Some of the terms in the Sanctus are a bit different in the Latin than in English. For instance, where the English says "Lord, God of power and might" which is pretty cool, the Latin says, "Dominus, Deus Sabbaoth" which means "Lord, God of 'invincible armies'" in a literal translation. Now, that sounds even cooler! Like an army made of Iron Men! Or not....

Agnus Dei: Note for note, the Latin "Agnus Dei" is the "Lamb of God" without some of the English derivations such as "Lamb of God, prince of peace" or the innovative "Lamb of God, dancer of dreamshadows, weaver of womyn's song" or some other thing like that. From the book of Revelation, Jesus is the Lamb of God and the redeemed people are gathered around him praising him day and night. This ancient form of "Agnus Dei" chant unites us with the saints in a mystical and beautiful way.

Salve Regina, Ubi Caritas, etc: Well, actually we don't sing "etcetera" which is also Latin but not Churchy Latin. The other uses of Latin are in some traditional hymns and songs. "Salve Regina" is the "Hail Holy Queen" (not exactly the same one Whoopi Goldberg sang in "Sister Act" but close enough) and "Ubi Caritas" is a classic monastic hymn that says "Where you find charity and love, you will find God".

We use the Latin in our Mass for a few reasons:

1. We serve an international Catholic community. Jews have Hebrew, Muslims have Arabic, Christians have Latin. It's the language of the Church and it does unite us with our brothers and sisters from Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America.

2. Latin is supposed to be used! Although the vernacular is encouraged in the celebration of the Mass, Latin was never to have been abandoned.

3. Young people appreciate tradition. In the 70's, the priests and nuns listened to the youth and celebrated Mass that would bring relevance to their lives. From Masses held in the middle of fields, to the priest painted up in clown makeup and dancing around the altar, to the nun wearing a stole made of burlap and playing "I AM WOMAN" for the closing hymn, innovation and creativity was used during Mass. And it wasn't too cool. It was more like your dad singing a Gwen Stefani song to be "hip".
The youth of this generation wants stability and something they can count on. The use of Latin and the reverence given to the Mass is something that is more than "cute" or grasping at relevance. It's true.

4. Ole Miss is a teaching institution. So why not learn how to be Catholic? I have an obligation as pastor to give you the best our Catholic tradition has so when you move on in 2, 4, 13 years, you at least will have the fundamentals of the faith that will have you at home in any Church throughout the world. You're welcome.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making God visible is highest priority today, Pope says at vigil

From the Catholic News Agency

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 / 06:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- We must not be afraid to share our faith, said Pope Benedict XVI from the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Wednesday evening. The "highest priority" today is to make God present in the world lest his light be "snuffed out forever."

The Pope was joined by thousands of candle-bearing faithful for the traditional prayer vigil before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima, celebrated every May 13. He blessed the candles for the procession and recited the Rosary with the people.

Speaking about the crowd of pilgrims, the Pope said that seeing so many people with candles reminded him of "a sea of light" around the Chapel of Apparitions, "lovingly built to the honor of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light."

At the same time, the light is neither ours nor of Mary, Benedict observed, saying that "we receive it from Jesus.”

"His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us."

Further developing the image of the burning bush, the Holy Father said, "we are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan..."

The Pope then went on to recount the story of Moses who guided his people to freedom in the promised land. He said, this was not about the possession of land or a national territory "to which every people has a right," rather, at the center of Moses' struggle for the freedom of Israel is “above all the freedom to worship, the freedom of a religion of one’s own.”

"Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God."

These days, said the Holy Father, in places where it seems as though the faith is like "a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God." This doesn't refer to just any god, he said, but to the God whose love was shown in the crucified and risen Christ.

The Pope implored the faithful not to be afraid to show the faith or speak of God.

Reminded of how the shepherd-children entrusted themselves to Mary's influence and the many times we have been urged to pray the Rosary, the Pope then invited Catholics to allow themselves “to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s Rosary."

Reciting the Rosary, he explained, turns our eyes and hearts to Jesus. When Catholics meditate on the mysteries the Rosary, he said, "let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus ... let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope."

Grace, he continued, will thus fill our hearts and lead us to say as St. Paul did, “For me to live is Christ.”

Laying the worries and hopes of our times at the feet of the Virgin Mary, the Pope asked for her intercession that all peoples, Christians and non-Christians, "may live in peace and harmony" and be united as "the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity."

Following the prayer, the Holy Father returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, while Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Vigil Mass before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knights need to be a witness for life

I wrote the following for the Montana State Council of the Knights of Columbus newsletter.

Where do we stand as far as putting our faith into practice, not only in our church attendance, but in all that we do as Knights? I bring this up because of recent events related to Council 140 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Members of the council become members of the Casey Home Association which owns the Casey Function Center, which is basically the KC Hall. Note the pun Casey=KC? All sounds good so far.

In May, it became known that the Casey Function Center had entered a rental agreement to NARAL Pro-Choice (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) for a fund raising event. After some concerns were raised, the Casey Function Center canceled the contract. While this part of the story sounds like a good ending, one needs to ask how this rental agreement happened in the first place.

But, let's look at the rest of the story. It appears that the current president of the Casey Home Association is upset that they were required to cancel the contract. Remember that he is a member of the local council. He is now attempting to sever all ties between the local council and the Casey Home Association. After he accomplishes this separation, he plans on leaving the Knights of Columbus and maybe even the Catholic Church. If the Casey Home Association is made up of members of the Knights of Columbus, how can this happen?

What is happening to the Church? As Knights, we are called to defend the Church. We are called to be witnesses in the world to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death. For some reason, we've gotten in our minds that we can be personally opposed to something which is evil, but allow, or even sometimes promote, evil in our society. We can not allow society to control who we are as Catholics. We need to be transforming society.

In the vision of the president of the Casey Home Association, it is not Christian if the organization does not rent to anyone regardless of color, race, or creed. I do not believe that color or race should prevent us from allowing a group to use our facilities. But, if they profess something that is completely at odds to what we believe as Catholics, we need to take a stand. It is not Christian to allow evil to take over our society.

Perhaps this is a good time for each of the councils in Montana to take a look at the policies which exist concerning their ties with their halls, and their rental policies. If the policies would allow anyone to question our total support for live, perhaps it is time for us to rework those polices before we end up in a sitituation like that of Council 140 in Portsmouth.

Until next time may God bless you. Vivat Jesus

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chouteau County Christmas

I just ran across this video on the Get Lost in Montana webpage. My parish and I get mentioned towards the end of the video. There is even a glimpse of my secretary when they are talking about the churches in Fort Benton, and I saw a few parishioners from Geraldine in the earlier photos.

Choteau County Christmas from Lynn Donaldson on Vimeo.