Friday, December 21, 2007


© The Catholic News & Herald, Dec. 21, 2007

Traditional celebration Extraordinary form of Mass to be offered in diocese by KAREN A. EVANS staff writer

CHARLOTTE — Older Catholics wanting to re-experience the Catholic Mass as they remember it pre-1962, or young people curious about the “old Mass” will soon be able to attend such Masses in various churches throughout the Diocese of Charlotte.

In July 2007, in the long-awaited and much-debated document ‘Summorum Pontificum,’ the pope relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council.

The pope said that Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal should be made available in every church where groups of the faithful desire it. The Mass from the Roman Missal, in use since 1970, remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration according to the 1962 missal is the extraordinary form.

“The main benefit of Pope Benedict’s document is two-fold,” Bishop Peter J. Jugis said. “It recognizes the beauty and legitimacy of the extraordinary form of the Mass and promotes the unity of the faithful because, as Pope Benedict has noted, there are people devoted to this form of the Mass.”

“Both forms of the Mass are legitimate means of worship; we don’t want to hurt or leave people behind because of their devotion to earlier liturgical forms,” said Bishop Jugis.

“We’ve had a good response from our priests wanting to celebrate using the 1962 missal,” said Bishop Jugis. “However, many of them need to learn the rubrics and details of the 1962 missal.”

Therefore, 14 priests from the Diocese of Charlotte participated in a five-day training session on the 1962 missal in Hickory Dec 17-21. They studied the rituals of the missal and the prayers, which are recited in Latin.

But diocesan priests won’t be the only ones brushing up on their Latin.

“Catechesis will be necessary for parishioners, as well, to fully appreciate the Mass of the 1962 missal,” said Bishop Jugis.

“The major differences between the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass you’ll notice are the priests’ orientation during the liturgy and the use of Latin prayers,” said the bishop.

In the extraordinary form, the priest and the people face the same direction in worship, as the priest leads his flock in prayer.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, a church’s altar was placed against the wall at the back of the sanctuary. During the consecration of the Eucharist, the priest therefore faced away from the congregation.

The Second Vatican Council decreed that a church’s altar should be placed in a central location in the sanctuary, allowing a priest to face the congregation during the consecration.

Bishop Jugis said that a priest celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass will now stand in front of the altar, between it and the congregation.

The extraordinary form of the Mass will be offered in certain churches beginning in 2008. Catholics interested in attending a Mass should contact the office of their vicar forane — a priest who coordinates pastoral activities among groups of churches — to find out Mass times and locations.

“It will be up to each individual priest to determine when he is comfortable celebrating the Mass,” Bishop Jugis said.

Since his ordination four years ago, the bishop said he has received letters from all areas of the Diocese of Charlotte requesting the extraordinary form of the Mass. “These are individuals who are grateful that Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the wider use of the 1962 missal,” he said.

“Going forward, Pope Benedict said we’re not going to leave anyone behind,” the bishop said. “We’re all going forward together.”

Contact Staff Writer Karen A. Evans by calling (704) 370-3354 or e-mail

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ad Orientem Revisited

A few months ago, I posted on the significance of posture in the liturgy. I have been thinking about this more and more and have come to this conclusion.

No Mass can ever be truly moving, truly focused, with a Priest facing the people across a table. Period.

Don't tell me about St. Peters. The table altar there, while having the same effect, is so big, so high, and masses there are such a production, that it doesn't count. That would be like comparing a bottle rocket to the space shuttle.

I have come to this conclusion by watching closely the masses I attend every week. Unlike the horrible liturgies I hear and read about, both of the churches I attend here in Greensboro, Saint Benedict's and Our Lady of Grace, have very traditional, by-the-book masses. No funny stuff, no clapping, dancing, etc. After watching the masses and the celebrants so closely, I conclude that these (novus ordo) masses are about as proper and reverent as you can get. The celebrants are VERY meticulous and caring and reverent and proper. I have never seen one be more so. As the old beer commercials said - it doesn't get any better than this.

Yet still, the sight of them looking at me across a table makes the whole process seem more like a cafeteria than a mass. It isn't them, it isn't the setting. In fact Saint Benedict's is strikingly beautiful and modest sized, and about 110 years old. And Our lady of Grace is, I sincerely believe, the most architecturally impressive church in the United States. It isn't the congregations, as they are both quiet and reverent.

The inescapable conclusion is that it is the altar. Turn the priest around the way he was for at least a thousand years, and EVERYTHING else will change.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Good One

Several weeks ago, the pastor at my "second" parish began using his "From the Pastor's Desk" column in the Sunday Bulletin to address the issue of reverence at mass and the behavior of the congregation. Not in a chastising or nasty way at all, but in the sense of simply laying out what the proper way to behave. Each week he addresses a different topic.

Amazingly enough (at least to me) it already seems to be working. Last Sunday night, the church filled up more quietly that I ever remember. No chit-chat, no loud greetings, etc. People just filed in, prayed, and waited for mass to start. Now keep in mind that this church is usually reasonably reverent, but this was an improvement over the usual.

It makes me think about catechesis, human nature, and how to progress to ad-orientem and the TLM.

People generally WANT to behave properly. They want to fit in, and they want to understand. If a priest, ANY priest, want to lead his flock toward a more reverent, more traditional mass, given proper instruction, they will follow. Small steps, followed with plenty of guidance, and it can be done. Obviously, this will be a much tougher task in some parishes and places, but still doable. There will be bitchers, of course, but there always are. But most people will go along with it. As evidence of this I look to Father Fox, who has been doing this with his two churches in Ohio, and his gradual progression to a much more traditionally Catholic mass celebration.

I have a feeling that this latest trend that the pastor is taking is just the beginning. I still think it's a shame that the most beautiful church in the South, with the most beautiful high altar in the south, has a table-altar in front, leaving the high altar forlornly in the background. Someday... Someday...

Perspective on the Mass

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other day.

I don't get to talk to her much, and have no idea whether or when she goes to mass. But the other day, I had a conversation with her about the old mass, relating a bit about Summorum Pontificum. And she said something that was so clear, and so to the point, that it should be shared.

She said "You know, people talked about the Latin and not being able to understand. The thing is, we can't really understand what is going on anyway. Who really, really, understands it? It's supposed to be a mystery. So you sat, and you prayed, and the music carried you away."

I was struck by the simple truth and beauty of that statement.

I still am.

Up To Speed

It occurs to me looking at my Blog that it has been over a month since I posted anything.

In the intervening weeks much has happened, both at work and at home, which has demanded a lot of time and energy. My wife being quite sick, along with various sick child maladies and demands kind of monopolized my time and energy. Work has been being quite demanding of my time as well. Having lost my assistant I am left doing all of the drafting myself, which, while not difficult, and enjoyable to some extent, is still a time demand.

In addition to the lack of Blogging for the past month, I have also been unable to attend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form which is being said on a pretty regular basis in Winston Salem now. I had it all worked out last Sunday. I was going to get ready while my wife was at mass with our daughter, and leave as soon has they got home. That was not to be, however. While she was at mass (leaving me home with the 1 and 2 year olds) I managed to get myself locked in the garage. I tried for several minutes to dismantle the lock to gain entry, but that was taking some time and frustration. Then, my daughter started called me, worried because she was alone. That was all it took. Two slams of the shoulder, the door frame gave way, and I was in! BUT, that necessitated me taking the nest several hours to try to reconstruct the door frame. Hence the missing of the TLM.

It all worked out okay, though. I went to 7:00 PM mass at Our Lady of Grace, and it was beautiful. Feast of Christ the King! The "Big Six" candles lit on the high altar, the vestments were gorgeous, and there was a matching chalice veil! Praise God! It actually felt like church.

There is more to talk about that has happened in the intervening weeks, but I'll drop it at this right now. The rest of the stuff is more particular, and best covered in individual posts.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life and Times

Anybody who has read or heard the news in the last few months knows about the problems in the mortgage and housing industries. Those of us involved in the industry have been watching and listening warily - fearfully - to each new bit of news. It was one of those situations where you knew something bad was going to happen, but there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Amazingly (at least to me) the industry kept plugging along like there was no tomorrow. We were swamped with work, subdivisions going up, houses going up, development everywhere.

Until this month.

Now, in a span of a few weeks, most of our big clients called and put a hold on all of their projects "until at least next spring". Now there is little work in-house, and very few prospects for more. I personally have no work to do to speak of. Yesterday we laid off half of my field staff, and then we had a company meeting wherein it was explained just how dire the situation is, and how we think we can all hang on until January, but after that, unless something changes, we will have to cut virtually everyone else. This is all set in the background knowledge that there are several firms in this business, both big and small, who have or are getting ready to go out of business entirely. Needless to say, it gives me pause.

Of course, I am prone to overreaction, so maybe it'll all work out and happy days will be here again in a few months! In the meantime, I can't get this song out of my head...

It has been said that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. But that ignores the fact that those who do remember history are doomed to worry about repeating it!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Just last week, the first publicly celebrated Traditional Latin Mass was celebrated at Davis Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University, in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
The mass was beautifully celebrated by Father Weber, with the blessings of Bishop Jugis, and with the bishop reportedly excitedly awaiting the results.

Well, the results are in, folks. I received the following information in email just this morning:

Friends of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form:

Fr. Weber has asked me to email to you this notice from him:

"With the encouragement of the Bishop of Charlotte, Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, on certain Sundays, feasts and other days, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered in the Extraordinary Form for the Catholic Community of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by Father Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B., faculty member of the Wake Forest University Divinity School. On Sunday October 14, Holy Mass will be offered in the Davis chapel at 1:30 p.m. Other days and times will be announced. Guests are welcome. "

GLORIOUS NEWS! WE'VE GOT A SUNDAY MASS! Prayers are answered! I need only add: This is again short notice; none of us was expecting this quick a reply from Bishop Jugis. Fr. Weber wants to get started right away. And so do I! SO DO WE!

Again, we need your presence. The numbers helped. And you people did just splendid last Friday, and you oldsters really helped out us new people. We're still in the beginning phase of this. Speaking just for myself, I have high hopes someday for a full High Mass.

Again, bring you Missals or Missalette. I have invited Dan Hunter to be with us again and to bring his red Missalettes. I pray that he can come!

I'll keep y'all posted as new information comes in. All'y'all, let others know, especially those without email.

Now give thanks to Almighty God. And see you Sunday at 1:30pm!

-- Sid Cundiff

Give Thanks to Almighty God indeed!!!!!!

I can't wait to be there! Come join if you are interested at all....
The more the better. Numbers matter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What if.....

A few day ago, the brilliant Father Z created a post, entitled What if..

It was thought provoking, chilling thought provoking. It has got me thinking in detail about such scenarios, planning, preparing. How could anyone do otherwise? Remember Hurricane Andrew? or more recently (and famously) Katrina? Hordes of people, on the road, nowhere to go, no way to sustain themselves, no prospects.....

I started to think about this in some way many many years ago, when I saw the opening episode of James Burke's series CONNECTIONS. He goes into extreme, chilling (again) detail on how far out on the social/technological limb we are all living. YOU owe it to yourself to watch this show, now in segments on youtube, here is segment 1:

Then think about it, think clearly, REALLY think...
If you had to feed and shelter yourself, and your family, how would you?
If you had to get out, how would you?
Remember, you and your family will be dead in a week if you don't have food and shelter.
Where would you go, and How?
Run, Drive, Hitchhike?
Do you have a destination?
Is it safe?
How do you know?
Is it defensible?

Remember, when All Hell breaks loose, millions of people will be unprepared, and will come boiling out of every city like fire ants, looking for food and shelter. Some of them will not be very nice people to begin with, and ALL of them will be desperate. They will want what you have, be it your shelter, your food, your wife, your kids. Are you willing and able to protect them?

You've been without power for a few days, it's no problem, if you're prepared. But what if it's a few weeks? Or a month? Or a year? Think it can't happen? Read this. When it does, what will you do? The world is full of people who would relish the prospect. They dream of the Great Satan being crippled, starving, broke. So far they have been unlucky, gotten caught - but eventually luck turns.

What about religious persecution? Or government persecution - Papers, Please.
Think it can't happen? So did these nice people.

Think about it...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An "Extraordinary" Young Man

In a world (liturgical and otherwise) where teenagers are pandered to in so many ways it is striking to find one who gets it. Of course there are many, maybe even most, who get it. Most teenagers have a built-in detection system that tells them when older people are trying to "get down" to their level so that they can "relate". Adults with common sense also have this ability. All you have to do is see a 45 year old "hanging out" with teenagers, using their lingo, trying to be "cool" to know what I mean. Unfortunately, teenagers also have a built-in system that makes them immensely susceptible to outside influences and peer pressure, thus hesitant to speak out.

This young man not only gets it, he explains it all so clearly and eloquently that it should be required reading for every bishop, priest, deacon, youth minister, and parent in the Church.

The letter, here in its original context, is written as a response to a previous letter that apparently said that teens couldn't relate to the mass without changing it to make it relevant to them in some way. This extraordinary young man takes exception to that idea.

Hat tip to clewis at Roman Catholic by Choice for leading me to this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pure Beauty

In keeping with the mood of the day. Credit to the New Liturgical Movement for leading me to this one.


Downtrodden No More

It's a lovely day. And a good day. I apologize for the dark tone last week, but I guess that's what a blog is about to some degree - a reflection of a person and a time.

And a new time is here, and I am sure of it. Now I'm kicking myself in the ass for being downtrodden in the first place. The darkness is not over yet, but the sky in the east is getting lighter and lighter. As I think about it, and the unlikely beauty of it all, I consider myself lucky to be living at a time when it is all happening. Who could have dreamed even a few years ago that the Church would be rediscovering itself? Yet it is happening - right now.

Right now there are priests out there learning the old rite, and practicing their Latin. Musicians thinking about and practicing gregorian chant. And just plain old laymen like myself buying and reading and studying Missals so that they will be ready when they finally can attend the Extraordinary use.

Look past the frustrations and ask yourself - did you ever think you'd see this day??

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Exhausted, stressed out wife, asleep upstairs. Trying to keep the girls quiet while as they watch Zula Patrol on DVR. Oldest one sick and mopey, younger two harassing each other constantly. Will go to mass tonight, though I dread doing so. It often turns into heartbreak - a beautiful mass ruined by a congregation who seem to be hell-bent on not giving a damn.

Life as I know it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Yesterdays post by my friend the Carolina Cannonball has me just flat downtrodden. It makes me wonder if there is really any hope at all for our diocese and the traditional mass. I just feel like not caring any more.

Too bad the nearest SSPX Chapel is the other side of Charlotte. With a wife dubious about the old rite, and our three small children, that's just too tough logistically.

Monday, September 17, 2007

As Good as It Gets

Back when "Spa" was "Spa"...

there were giants on the earth. Men who put their lives on the line, using their incredible skill and discipline to prove that they were the best. And they were.
Back when "car control" was something that was driven by the heart, processed by the central nervous system, and executed by the bones, muscles and tendons of the body.

Now, 40 years on, car control means having the best software - software allowing the driver to just point and shoot. How inspiring is that?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Next Move

The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum is now in effect. Executed better in some places - far better than I had ever dreamed. And grudgingly in others - a situation that will be worked out over time. (I have the feeling that a few pontifical new-arsehole-rippings for some bishops are in the works even as I write this) BUT, in effect nonetheless.

It should be clear by now that the mission of the Holy Father is the revival of The Church and the revival of Catholic identity, and Summorum Pontificum is just the most recent move in this crusade. The first move in this crusade was the pontifical report on the Eucharistic Congress, released earlier this year, entitled Sacramantum Caritatis.

Sacramentam Caritatis was released to little fanfare, but was in is workings, an awesome document. I think, as it sinks in over time that it, as much as Summorum Pontificum, will change the church as we know it. The problem is that, until now little has been said about it at all. It was relased, announced, and promptly vanished. I think that there are two good reasons for that. One is that the document, however powerful, was doomed to be eclipsed by Summorum Pontificum. Both in the press and in the church it was treated as a long awaited document that had to be released and gotten out of the way before the much-heralded motu proprio. But the other reason - and one that hardly gets mentioned - is that it was on some ways just an overview with little in terms of nuts-and-bolts.

But those nuts-and-bolts were mentioned, in article 93:

"The competent offices of the Roman Curia will publish a Compendium which will assemble texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, explanations of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal and other useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar (251). It is my hope that this book will help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission."

THAT, I think, is the next move. I am hoping and praying and betting that this compendium is going to go a long-long way to "cleaning up" the junk liturgies that have metastacized in many parts of our Church. Look for it to contain lots and lots of details on the "ars celebrandi". As well as details about everything from vestments to chuch design.

This Pope, driven by the Holy Spirit, is on a mission from God. I think that more and more each day. An old theologian, late in his years, solid, respectable. A "caretaker Pope" to follow on the Rock Star like persona of John Paul II. Someone who would "fill in" until the next Pope has become, through the Blessing of the Holy Spirit, the Pope who saved the Church.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Times of Life

For years, many years, all of my adult life, that is, I always thought that I was born 50 years too late. I have said so on many occasions. I felt that way (and still do to some extent) because, as a student of history, I had the feeling that the world would have fit my personality, interests, and quirks just perfectly.
Being born in 1909 rather than 1959 would have had me grow up during the 'teens and the twenties, during the emergence of the United States as what would come to be know as a superpower. Also, the fashion, the music, just the culture in general, was just - well, just ME.

Above all - the trains....The 1920's was the pinnacle of American railroading. Real trains, Real people, Steam Locomotives - everywhere. On top that - streetcars everywhere!!!! Oh how I dream of it!

Of course, I would have turned 20 just as the stock market crashed, and had to live through the Great Depression. That would have been tough. Being 32 on December 7th, 1941 would have probably made me too old to fight in the war, but not too old to play some part in that historic conflict. My children would have grown up before the cesspool of the 1960's and thus avoided contamination, and my grandchildren would be born some time around my real date of birth. All that and I'd still be 60 when we landed on the moon - the pinnacle of American accomplishment. God willing, I'd live long enough to see the dismal 1970's through and live to see Reagan years and the fall of the Soviet Union.

What a life that would be!!!!!!

But that was then - and this is now.

Having children, watching them grow up, has made me think differently of my real times and the life I've had. Now, I think back to my childhood, what I had and what I saw, and I feel like the luckiest man that had ever been born.

Being born at the very end of the 1950's let me be raised in a small-town environment unpolluted by too much modern culture. Surrounded by strong nuclear families, including being raised alongside my cousins, let me grow up safe, secure, and free in a way that no child nowadays gets to be. I remember the times when TV wasn't on! Not THE TV in our house, but TV period, those times, back then in the middle of the day, when the stations would stop broadcasting altogether and go off the air. Instead of staring at the tube, as my children do, we were with our friends - playing.

But NOT just playing, we were learning. Learning about each other and learning how to be members of a society. Also, learning how to behave in a real, adult world. When we were out and about, we were expected to behave and interact and learn. We went to a restaurant and walked in with our heads held high, greeting and acknowledging the world around us - not ignoring that world with our face glued to a Game Boy. Children in those days grew up in the adult world, not pandered to in a child world of their own.

The day-to day things I have seen growing up were so unique too. I went tho a Catholic school (St. Mary's, in Avoca Pa.) at a time when all the classes were taught by nuns, real nuns with habits and yeardsticks and a real convent next door to the school. I went to Mass every day before school and marched in ranks across the street to our school - no matter what the weather. We had our lunchtime milk in glass bottles, at least for the first few years I was there. I walked home from school - sometimes by "shortcuts" which were in retrospect far longer that the "regular" route, but went through mysterious alleys and backyards and graveyards and even down the railroad tracks. Now I freely admit that the idea of one of my daughters, at age 8, walking through alleys and graveyards and along (busy) railroad tracks scares makes me shudder, but the world was different back then. And I would give anything - ANYTHING - to get my children to experience it.

Then, as an adult, I survived the 1970's (I hated the 70's), and got to see the amazing techological changes that we have today. And above all else - ALL ELSE, I was at the right age and right place and right time to meet and marry the most amazing, wonderful female who has lived on this earth since probably the Assumption. I got to see my daughters be born, and to see the blessings of the medical technology we have today help them out a few critical situations.

And now, I am blessed to be witnessing the revolution in the church which is going to pull us back from the brink of extinction, or worse, apathy. And I pray that I will live to see the day when the last tambouring banging, handclapping, Haugen singing mass is celebrated and the mass returns to the world of adults. And the day when the last table altar is decomissioned and sent to the junk pile. Somehow I get the feeling that, years on, we will all look back on the last 40 years of litugical history the same way people look at old photos of themselves wearing outlandish, trendy clothes or hairstyles and think "WHAT the HELL was I THINKING?!?!?!?!?!?"

One Amazing Priest

For some time now, 10 months or so, I have been more or less addicted to reading Catholic blogs and news. I have read, and continue to read nearly every post from the blogging Priests of the world - at least the more traditional minded ones. They all have a their own wonderful perspective, from the amazingly knowledgable Father Zuhlsdorf to the funny and humble Father Joe. I freely admit I love them all.

Of all these, however, one stands out in my mind. That is Father Martin Fox, of Bonfire of the Vanities. Somehow Father Fox manages to strike a balance between the intellectually though provoking, and the touchingly human. His posts range from "a day in the life" journal entries, to reflections on Sacrementam Caritatis, to straightforward challenges about current affairs, like the current credit crisis. Add to that the fact that he publishes his Homilies in his blog for all to see and be blessed by! He manages to balance the intellectual side of life with the faith side of life and seems to enjoy it all.

This man, and his blog, provide such a good, interesting insight on life as a priest that I sincerely believe that his blog should be required reading for any man thinking about the priesthood - especially adult men thinking about the priesthood.

Thanks for being there, Father Fox.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Summorum Pontificum, at T Plus 32 Hours

T is for Tridentine, of course!!

More than 32 hours as I sit here typing this since the Traditional Latin Mass was liberated. Or, as it is now rightly called, the mass of Blessed John XXIII. At this time there has been no official statement for the Diocese of Charlotte. I am disappointed in this, but not disheartened. I know that the Bishop discussed the subject with the presbyterial council on Tuesday, the 11th, so I know that something is being worked on. I just wish that things would move along more quickly.

Of course, there is the possibility that Bishop Jugis made some private communication to the priests of the diocese, and we parishoners will all be informed of it through our priests. In fact, I suppose that that is probably the proper way to do it, so that the faithful who actually attend mass will get the word. A press release or a statement in the Dioscean newspaper is way too likely to get overlooked or ignored. Ideally, I think that considering the importance of this document in the history of the church, that an announcement of this ought to be made at each and every mass in the diocese this weekend and the word put out that all those who think they may be interested speak to the priest after mass, or call or email to show their interest.

Either way, I know that things tend to move at glacial speed in the church, so for a bit more I'll keep watching and waiting. I would much rather see things move slowly and deliberately so that they are made a part of the fabric of the diocese than quickly and haphazardly - and thus quickly discarded as "an experiment that failed". Please note, however, that slow and stationary are two different things.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Memes -- the empty calories of Blogger

A One Word Meme seen at Cannonball's...

1. Yourself: Useful
2. Your spouse: Amazing
3. Your hair: Lots
4. Your mother: Perfect
5. Your father: Demanding
6. Your favourite item: nothing
7. Your dream last night: Lost
8. Your favorite drink: Coffee
9. Your dream car: Niva
10. The room you are in: Office
11. Your ex: Sad
12. Your fear: Unemployment
13. What you want to be in 10 years: Alive
14. Who you hung out with last night: Carrie
15. What you’re not: Lazy
16. Muffins: Bagels
17. One of your wish list items: Books
18. Time: Flies
19. The last thing you did: Boring
20. What you are wearing: jeans
21. Your favorite weather: Blustery
22. Your favorite book: Detailed
23. The last thing you ate: Cereal
24. Your life: Blessing
25. Your mood: :)
26. Your best friend: Carrie
27. What you’re thinking about right now: ;)
28. Your car: Quest
29. What you are doing at the moment: procrastinating
30. Your summer: long
31. Your relationship status: married
32. What is on your TV: Thomas
33. What the weather is like: HOT
34. When was the last time you laughed: last night

Tagging anyone who hasn't done this one yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Friend in Need

Please pray for a friend of mine, who could use the help right now.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ad Orientem

In the grand scheme of liturgical reform things, there is an elephant in the middle of the room. It isn't the latin language, it isn't the extraordinary versus ordinary rite, it isn't chant versus congregational singing, it isn't guitar versus organ.

That elephant is the altar and which way it faces. That table altar which was so unceremoniously plopped down in the middle of the santuary some years ago. It's big, and it's in the way. Unless and until a way is found to deal with it, to get rid of it entirely, any real change to the way that mass is celebrated will be very tough indeed. The more you think about it, the more apparent it becomes that as long as a priest has "his back to Jesus" and faces the people, the more obvious it becomes that the only way to have a truly Catholic mass is to have the priest, along with everyone else, face Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Mass facing the people is, by unavoidable definition, a mass that is all about the people. There is simply no way around that. No Way At All.

That being the case, the question is how do we get there from here. The technical issues are easy to work out. In some older churches, all of the old hardware still is in place, save for the aforementioned plopped down table. Remove the table, and in minutes, literally, you're good to go. Zero expense. In others, a new altar will be needed, or the existing one "un-modified". Some time, some expense, though not necessarily extravagant. But even in new churches, there is no reason at all that an real "high" altar could not be put into place. Sure, it would cost a bit, but it could be done.

The real issue is getting the church and the people to understand the importance of this change. How to teach people - BOTH PRIESTS AND LAITY - who, for a generation, have been conditioned to believe that it's a meal ("happy are those who are called to his supper"), and that it's all about them, that it ISN'T about them at all. To somehow teach people to be humble in His presence. We are, atfer all being led, as sheep, by the good shepher towards heaven. We are not supposed to be leading the charge, up front like the cavalry or a marching band. I don't know the answer, but the answer is going to have to come, and soon. Because as long as that elephant is there we can't even get off go.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

An Observation

This post has only a little to do with church, and only a little more to do with liturgy. It is a reflection on life and society that has been a long time coming. I have been haranguing my long-suffering wife for years about this topic, and as the phonomenon seems to be progressing so rapidly of late, I figure that the time is right to unleash it on the world.

Some years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, coined the term “Defining Decency Down”. It is used to describle the slow, creeping deterioration of our societal mores wherein behaviors that were once considered disgusting and taboo are now considered normal and healthy.

Well, I am now borrowing and adapting that term to define the similar slow, creeping changes to what is considered decent and appropriate behavior and dress. I call it “Defining Slackness Down”. Nowadays, attire (and attitude) that was once to be seen only in teenagers on vacation is now considered acceptable nearly everywhere and anytime - even considered “Sunday Best”.

There is a phrase, “the clothes make the man” , but it really should be “the clothes reflect the man”. That is, the voluntary decision one makes as to is or her attire reflect the attitude with which that person approaches everything in the world. The man who dons a suit approaches himself and everything else in the world with an attitude completely different than the one who chooses a wrinkled t-shirt, shorts and boat shoes. If an example is needed one need look no further than the term “wife beater”, used to desribe the tank-top style shirts worn consistently by the drunken male sleazeballs seen in the infamous “Cops” TV series.

The extrapolation of this is that people in such a flip-flop wearing society expect to approach everything with a sort of slack, casual attitude. It is the projection of the personal comfort “uber alles” worldview. This is the reason that everywhere, no matter where you go, people don’t seem to give a damn about anything - anything that is ecept themselves. This is the all-pervasive flippant don’t-give-a-rats-ass about you attitude that we have to fight in so many situations is the ultimate result.

In the movie “Patton”, General Patton, as played by George C. Scott, was charged with turning a losing army into a winning one. His first observation - and definition of the problem went like this.

“You want to know why this outfit got the hell kicked out of it?
Hell, a blind man could see it in a minute. They don't look like soldiers.
They don't act like soldiers. How in the hell can they be expected to fight like soldiers?”

Well, the same can be said about our society today. People don’t look like they give a damn. They don’t act like they give a damn. How can they be expected to actually give a damn.

Perhaps, after all, this post does have to do with liturcgy and the church. Look up some photos on line. Take a look at the congregation at a tradtional mass. Then take a look at the congregation at one of the “progressive” masses. Which group do YOU think looks more like they give a damn about the fact that God himself is on the altar???

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


My daughter started kindergarten today. Time moves on.

Thank God she is attending a GREAT Catholic school. One that actually teaches the Catholic faith, in addition to their outstanding academics. And I thank God that I am able to support her going there. I hope and pray that in four more years I'll have two more joining her.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How Good It Is....

I had the priveledge of attending mass at my home parish this morning, and what a beautiful thing it was. After spending so many hours seeing and reading all about the horrific masses that so many have to put up with, seeing mass celebrated so well just served as a wellspring of grace for me.

Rarely do I get to attend mass at this hour (8:00AM) and alone. Doing so allowed me to concentrate, pray, and sit right up front where I could easily see every detail of the mass. Because of my seat, it struck me right away that our Priest, Father Duong, celebrates the mass with an amazing level of care and precision. It is a true pleasure to watch. Every movement is "just right" and wonderfully executed.

And to make it all even better, our 8:00AM Sunday mass is celebrated in "low mass" style - no singing at all. What that means is there is time for prayer and reflection, time to digest and internalize what is happening on the altar. Don't get me wrong, I love to sing, and I sing all the time (ask my wife). But I have always thought that the singing of hymns in the middle of mass was a distraction at best - intrusion is more like it. All made worse by the fact that virtually all of the hymns found in Catholic churches nowadays suck, both musically and theologically. I know that he who sings prays twice, but I'll settle for praying once, well. To paraphrase an old movie line "When I sing, I sing - and when I pray, I pray". Chant is a tertium quid, and truly does count as prayer, doubled.

Sure it would be better to get Father to "turn towards the lord" and lose the table altar. Or maybe to celebrate in Latin. But, even as it is, this mass is as good as the "new mass" gets. We are truly truly blessed.

So for all my friends out there who feel that they are stuck in a liturgical wasteland, if you want to see a reverent mass in a reverent parish, with a reverent priest and congregation, come to St. Benedict's in Greensboro for the 8:00AM Sunday mass. I hope to see you there.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I never knew I had it so good

Well, actually, I had a pretty good idea. But now I know, REALLY KNOW, just how good I have it.

I read a blog post some months ago from the Carolina Cannonball about the futility and counter-productive results of whining about liturgical abuses. I realized at that time, that I had fallen into that trap of negativism. I swore off such bitching unless I saw the abuses myself, in person. Fortunately for me, both of the churches I attend have pretty good, reverent masses. About as good as the novus ordo gets, for the most part. So I have not had opportunity to bitch at all.

Until Now.

I attended mass on the Vigil of the Assumption, featuring a stand-in priest, who shall remain nameless. The whole mass was the perfect example of why the priest should NEVER face the congregation. Father _______ was constantly using the most overtly theatrical expressions and choreography. It was extreme and right out of acting school, or so it appeared. That made the whole thing just plain cheesy. But then, to make it even more about himself, and to show how "post conciliar" he was, the priest took to CHANGING THE WORDS OF THE MASS!!! So the agnus dei became "This is Christ, our brother and friend, who takes away our sins...", and it went on that way through the whole mass. I actually started to walk out when he began the mass with "Sisters and Brothers" instead of "Brothers and Sisters", a change which told me, correctly it turns out, that this mass would be an exercise in inclusiveness. And it turned out that this whole mass was a distillation of all that happened in the "spirit of the council" that has caused the church to go through hell for these past decades.

Then, having stayed through a mass, not even knowing if it counts as the mass, I stayed in my pew to pray for a few minutes ( I am going through a bit of a personal crisis, and I NEEDED to pray). Well, two rows behind me, there congealed a crowd of about 15 people, who proceeded to start their reunion right there, LOUDLY. They were in fact so loud that when I finally got fed up, I turned to them and said in a loud voice "CAN YOU TAKE THE REUNION OUTSIDE!!!", and they didn't even hear me!!!! And as the ultimate in cake icing the priest came walking back up the aisle, and JOINED IN!!!

I swear I'd drive to the SSPX in Charlotte if I had to endure that every week. Thank God, I don't. But I'm keeping my options open.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Highly Impressive Statement

Father Z, on his blog, has a report on the statement of His Eminence, Cardinal Egan of New York on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. This is merely the latest in Father Z's running account of Bishop's statements accompanied by his thoughtful (and helpful) commentary. Of all of the statements I have read, I must admit that Cardinal Egan's statement is by far the most thoughtful and moving. Not just because it is so well presented, though it is, but because it comes from a powerful Cardinal Archbishop of what is arguably the most visible see in the US.

What strikes me is the openness of Cardinal Egan's attitude. He seems to be saying that, while he believes that the liturgy as we have it now is good, it can be even better. And the older Mass deserves a very special place, and it is right to have it in place, and respected. It is nice that he did not bend over backwards to tell people that it would have no affect on them, but rather put its affect into perspective for those who may be wondering.

I don't live in New York, but I know enough about human nature to know that what Cardinal Egan says will be well noted around the country. And I also well know that one positive statement by His Eminince is worth a lot more than a dozen of those urinating-and-moaning "party line" type statements that have been coming from some of the chanceries out in the hinterlands.

As time passes it is becoming clearer and clearer just which way the wind is blowing. The pattern is getting harder and harder to miss. I just continue to pray that my Bishop, Bishop Jugis of Charlotte Diocese, enthusiastically supportes those of his Diocese who want to celebrate the older mass.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Summorum Pontificum Notes

It has now been nearly a month since the Pope issued his watershed motu proprio (and I do believe it will be a watershed document, both right now and in the future) Summorum Pontificum. A few interesting developments - trends if you will - seem to be developing among the faithful and the bishops that I have observed and are worth noting.

The first is (and this is something that I noticed both in myself and in a lot - maybe all - of the goings on online about this document) is the stark contrast between what the document really says and how people are reacting to it. Summorum Pontificum is above all else a power-to-the-people document. I takes decision making directly out of the hands of the Bishops and puts it into the hands of the priests and the people. To a large degree, the Bishops are taken "out of the loop". Why then is everyone so focused on the reaction of the Bishops?? Is it because we still subconciously look to them as the shepherds of their flocks, i.e. us? Or is it because we know that THEY are where the power lies and, no matter what the Pope says, they are not going to let go of any of their power?

This is, I think, a possible achilles heel to the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. If a Bishop lets the impression be made that he wants nothing to do with the Mass of John XXIII in his diocese, then it will simply not happen. Not without either a STRONG priest or an overwhelming number of requests from the faithful at a parish - probably at least as many as attend the least attended Mass on Sunday. Those kind of numbers would make it undeniable.

But mostly, what will happen is what I see personally around here, which is priests being willing, even happy, about the old mass, but not wanting to do it without the Bishops okay. Even though it is technically unnecessary, they want to know the Bishop supports them. Let's pray that that support is forthcoming soon, or that the Holy Spirit moves these priests to action one way or the other.

NOTHING will happen, though, if everyone who is interested in this EVERYONE. Doesn't get moving, get calling get emailing, get praying, and get ready to DO WHATEVER IS REQUIRED to make this happen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Can't Get No Rest...

So goes the line to a 1970's hit song. But it more or less accurately describes my life right now. Work at work is pretty overwhelming. Business has picked up by about 150% in the past month, and we have lost three key people. At our current work load, my department needs 8 people minimum - six in the field and two in the office. I currently have 4. Which means lots of work for all partiues remaining, most especially myself who now has to run the department, work in the field a few days a week, and do almost all of the drafting and computations. Fortunately, I have purloined a CAD tech from another department to help out. I am NOT bellyaching, just putting it all in perspective.

Fortunately, summer session is almost over at school. I have exams to give and grades to compile, but that will all be over next week, thank God. Then I'll have three glorious weeks off before it all starts back up again.

Ahh, life is glorious. You see, I grew up on depression hard-times-no-work stories from my mother. I dare say they are a part of me. I never once go through a day that I am not thankful for the work I have. It sure beats the alternative.

A vacation would be nice, though! Someday maybe I'll take one.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Well, it has been a week since this watershed document was issued by Pope Benedict. And I have been watching, reading, calling, commenting since then. Now it's time to write.

One fascinating thing that I have seen (and found myself doing) is waiting anxiously to see the reaction of the Bishops to this motu proprio. This is fascinating, and revealing in a way because, as I (and others) read it, Summorum Pontificum is all about power to the priests and people, and very little about Bishops. It would seem that this is a tacit acknowledgement of just how much, consciously or subconsciously, we look to the Bishops for spiritual guidance.

In that light, it is truly revealing the incredible range of reactions we have seen. Some have been VERY positive, sayng, basically, we welcome the opportunity to become better through the guidance of the Pope, where as others have said, in so many words "we'll take it under advisement, Pope, f*** you very much for your input" The most common reaction is one of "roaring silence", and that is one I simply do not understand. All of this leads to the question, how can we be a universal Church if say, Bishop Trautman's Church is so fundamentally different than, say Bishop Burke's???

What I would like to see more is what the Priests are saying. Has anyone spoken to their priest? What was his reaction? I spoke to the Pastors secretary at one church on Tuesday, and she had never even heard of the motu proprio - had no idea that such a movement was afoot. She asked a number of questions about it , and seemed curios. I offered to email it to her, but she said that she was looking it up even as we spoke from the USCCB website. She also said that she would print it out and give it to Father. IIRC, she said she was "sure he'd want to read it". Whether that's good or bad, I can only guess. I am anxiously waiting to see what, if anything, appears in this Sunday's bulletin, or is said at Sunday mass. Probably nothing, but we shall see. I am hoping for a comment and contact information in the bulletin. I'd love to see a sign-up sheet in the front of the church!

Either way, I intend to follow up, and make every effort to see this thing blossom into a full-fledged renewal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vocations Follow-Up

At the risk of (though surely not the intention of) sounding like I'm blowing my own horn, I would like to bring attention to something that was said in an interview with The Remnant by Father Berg, Superior General of the FSSP. Apparently the good Father read my earlier post on vocations, and worked it into his own interview ;)

Here is an excerpt from the interview (my emphases):

Q: During a time in the Church in Western Europe and the U.S., when there are entire dioceses that frequently have no priestly ordinations each year, there have been 153 men request applications to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the United States January through March 2007. Why do you think so many young men are attracted to vocations to the traditional priestly societies?

A: If one looks at the diocese and institutes where they are attracting a strong number of vocations, the young men are receiving a very strong priestly identity—one that really underlines the supernatural side of the priesthood. This is not true only of the Fraternity, but also of places like St. Gregory’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sometimes I think we end up short-selling the youth and thinking what they really want, what is going to attract them, is this type of life or that—as if the priesthood is nothing more than being a social worker or a counselor. That is just not going to attract vocations. Men can go ahead and do that in other areas [without the sacrifices of the priesthood].

But in the end, it is the strong priestly identity that attracts them. Yes, they will end up doing a lot of natural things that are good—and they will end up needing to have a lot of natural virtues—but the priest’s job is about the supernatural life with the sacraments and everything else.

We’re fortunate enough to have a number of things [in the FSSP] that emphasize those elements, such as the priestly identify at the altar which is so stressed by the rite, and Thomistic theology which sees the priest’s fundamental act as offering sacrifice. It clearly underlines what the work of the priest is—what his essential work is. And that finally is the element which is most attractive about the priesthood: being able to deal with the things that are holy all the time; with the things that are most essential.

Having been a priest now for 10 years, I can’t imagine being a man and getting up every day and working 10 hours in a secular job on what is not most important. And I know there are men who have to do that according to their duty in state. But the priesthood is always dealing with the absolute essentials—with salvation.

That’s one thing that I think is fortunate about the way we form priests. It is centered around preaching and the sacraments: being dispensers of the mysteries of God as St. Paul says, is what is essential. Fortunately, the rite we use really emphasizes that role of the priest within the sanctuary, which a lot of men are looking for as well.

I would say that I couldn't have said it better myself, but in truth, I couldn't have said it nearly as good myself. I highly recommend that you read the whole interview. It is impressive in the extreme.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sermons (a.k.a. homilies)

One of the subjects which seems to come up occasionally on the blogs is that of homiletics. I think of the priests I have heard over the years, and while I have heard many good sermons, and good preaching, one stands out above all.

The former pastor of St. Benedict's in Greensboro was Msgr. Joseph Showfety. He is retired now, but I still miss him. In 1993, I had just gotten married to a wonderful Catholic girl. Due to my crazy work schedule at the time, over a period of months we had just fallen out of the practice of regularly going to mass. When we did, we attended mass at the beautiful church where we were members and had gotten married just a few months earlier. It was nice and pleasant and uninspiring, like most catholic services nowadays. But it was the mass about like I had come to expect it.

Then, due to scheduling issues, we went one Sunday to St. Benedict's. The priest's homily was unlike any I had heard. First he went through the readings, and put them all into perspective, historically and theologically. Then, using that foundation he showed what it all meant for us today, and even gave some practical applications. I was floored. Then, he celebrated the rest of the mass very very reverently and well. Using eucharistic prayer 1 and singing much of the mass. And his movements were strikingly precise. I didn't at the time even know there were different eucharistic prayers, but I remember noticing the drastic difference from every other mass I could remember.

We were both blown away. Neither of us had ever been to mass like that (at least not in my adult lives). All of a sudden, in one hour, the whole perspective had changed. After years of homilies which rarely even addressed the readings, let alone explained them, all of a sudden it all made sense. We talked about it all afternoon. And from that day forward, we transferred our membership to that parish, and only go elsewhere for scheduling reasons. Over the years, I learned all about the mass, the sacraments, the church, and countless other things. It was like weekly catechism / bible study class. For example, when did you last hear it explained that the sacrifice of the mass was a re-presentation of the sacrifice on calvary?
He was stern, but brilliant. Loving, but firm. It makes me think of a line from a song "a thundering, velvet hand". And I will never forget his oft-repeated phrase "you can go to hell dialoging".

At that time, that parish was small and barely making it, but over the next ten years we grew more and more, built a new parish hall, refurbished the exterior of the church, and many other good things. Monsignor retired a few years ago, to be replaced by Father Ferris, who was great in a different way. And now Father Duc (the website calls him Fr. James, but I don't know why), a kind sweet and good man.

I must say that, until that day, I was, at best a lukewarm Catholic. I had ceased attending mass regularly in my early 20's. Then after a number of years, had joined the Mennonite Church, and was actively involved with them up until just before I met my wife. Her catholicism drew me back to the church, and Monsignor Showfety cemented permanently my place here. Other than sickness or simple impossibility, I have not missed mass since that day.

The other thing worth noting especially with respect to the soon-to-be-published motu proprio is that I have seen through my own personal experience how one mass - ONE MASS can change entirely your perspective and spiritual life. And your life everlasting.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Thoughts on the Mass

Well, we shall see....

Four more days and the much awaited motu proprio regarding the celebration of mass according to the old rite should come out. I have awaited this for a long time, and now that it is, apparently imminent, I find myself wondering where we go from here. I also wonder how we got here in the first place, and why is this such a controversy?

Regarding the where we go from here, Carolina Cannonball has an interesting post on some possible happenings in Charlotte regarding the Mass. They are only rumors at this point, but a rumor of "yes" are better than factual "hell no", which is what we had previously. It is my sincerest hope and prayer that the old mass sweeps in and becomes more and more wanted, demanded, and celebrated. I am planning on, this Sunday, asking for the mass to be celebrated here in Greensboro, either at my home parish, or the other one I frequent. I have been wanting to for months now, but without the papal blessing to back it up, I would expect yet another "no". On the other hand, our pastor speaks english with a strong Vietnamese accent, so I wonder what his latin will be like. On the other hand, he also speaks Russian and French, so he'd probably get along just fine.

There is a well-written post over at The Cornell Society that goes over the astonishing comments of the Archbishop of Boston regarding the recent meeting at the Vatican with the Pope regarding the impending motu proprio. And, more importantly, regarding the handling of it once it is in force. Unfortunately, this first hint of feedback makes it appear as if the rection by some will be one of brushing it all off, since "everyone knows" there is "no demand" for that kind of thing any more. Brian Kopp at Universal Indult Blog has a wonderful post comparing the Tridentine Mass to Chocolate Ice Cream. It just serves to remind that all of us who want the Mass to be celebrated need to make our voices, our "legitimate desires" heard. Politely, but clearly. I believe, no, I KNOW that, given a fair chance, the initiative to bring back the Mass of John XXIII will be successful. I have feared all along that it won't be given that fair chance, but I refuse to accept that option. I will do everything I can to make it happen. Pray, call, write, talk, beg, educate, volunteer, anything. One thing for sure, the "we already have on of those masses" attitude will not fly with me.

But this leads to the next question, how did we get here?? And why are so many people so hatefully opposed to anything that has a hint of tradition about it?? I have some kind of off the wall theories regarding the first, which I will go into in another post, but I am at a complete loss as to the second question. I remember some years ago, Msgr. Showfety, our old, now retired pastor, held forth at length in a Homily over why he would never celebrate the old mass. I never did approach him about it, but I am so tempted to call him now and ask. But, Msgr. notwithstanding (a good man, BTW, and the reason I am a devout Catholic today), I just don't get it. I guess I am with the Pope when I think "what could be wrong with it?". Like so many similar things, I suppose the only reason for most people is that it is a way of pointing out their insecurity, and that makes them defensive.

Well, one way or the other, I think we are about to find out which way is going to prevail. If nothing else, the sheep are going to be separated from the goats real soon. I pray that all of our leaders have the serene attitude the Pope is hoping for. And if not, I pray that those of us who will be slighted will rise up and demand what is right. But, lest we all come off like a bunch of kooks, we should all re-read Father Z's 5 "Rules of Engagement". I know I need to.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thoughts on Vocations

I'd like to put fort a bit of theory on one of the reasons for the deart of priestly vocations nowadays. I may step on some toes here, but I believe that my theory is worth examining. This factor is something I have thought about for years, but now, thanks to this blog, I get to "publish" it - in a sense, anyway.

This post is prompted by an outstanding post today on Simon-Peter's Blog regarding the mathematical analysis of priestly vocations. The post, or repost of the original article form Seattle Catholic shows in painful detail how priestly vocations basically vanised in the mid-to-late '60's. I am absolutely convinced that the influence of Vatican II is at the heart of it, but the question is, how and why???

You see, the fact is that becoming a priest is a career choice. Yes, I know it's a calling. And I am not discounting that, but just because men are called to the priesthood doesn't mean that they become priests! If a man is drawn to (called to) the priesthood, he can still say no.

It is simply not reasonable to believe that the Holy Spirit would call 1/10th of the men that he did just 40 years ago. Therefore the only possible explanation is that they are simply saying "no, thanks" in overwhelming numbers!

I believe that the main reason for this is simply the perception of what and who a priest is. Prior to around 1965, priests were looked upon by the laity as awesome characters, almost fearsome. Priests were, simply put, the most respected people in their communities. When a priest walked into a room, the whole atmosphere changed. They were, by virtue of their position (they got to touch GOD HIMSELF!!!) and their attitude (strong, firm, wise) sole possessors of an almost God like aura.

Then, in a span of just a few years, all of that was intentionally discarded. The mass was no longer ancient, mystical, powerful - it was "a gathering". Priests were no longer expected to act like they were special - priestly, if you will. All of a sudden they were everybody's buddy. "Hi, I'm Mark!, Thanks for coming!" They went from being the mortar that bound the bricks of the church together to being the coffee pot at the K of C pancake breakfast - something you visit to make you feel warm and comfy. "Would you like cream and sugar with your mass today, Sir?"

Who the hell want's to be a coffee pot?

And THAT, that change of persona, is what was and is wrong! Being a preist is tough, emotionally demanding work that pays very little money. Once upon a time those things were offset by the strength of the position, the respect you were given, as well as the sure knowledge that you WERE the mortar and that you WERE helping the church, and more specifically the souls therein, from "the loss of heaven and the pains of hell". That belief, no, that KNOWLEDGE, that by being a priest, you were saving people in a real, sacramental, concrete way, combined with the knowledge that you would because of that, be respected and treated well, helped many many men make that career choice - to take the Holy Sprit's offer. And until that respect returns, there will be many who will say "thanks, but no thanks". And the church, lacking it's mortar, will get more and more fragile and less and less able to weather the rapidly gathering storm that it MUST weather to survive.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I just did a Google Blog search for "tridentine" and it came back with a hit to the blog of a Lutheran pastor, Paul T. McCain. He has a post about the upcoming motu proprio by the Pope regarding the liberalization of the Old Mass. In his post, among other things, he states that the contents of the document "apparently has already been leaked, in Spanish, in Central America".

My knowledge of Spanish, and my time, being limited here at the office, I have no way of pursuing this. But perhaps some of you can!!!! Keep me posted if you have any success.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Long Absence

I would like to apologize to my faithful readers for the extended absence from my blog. My life has been pretty challenging these past few weeks.

Without getting into the details, I was in the process of a change of employment, largely because of an unpleasant meeting with my boss. A meeting which led me to believe that I was on the blowout track. A few days and lunches and phone calls later, I had a job offer, and so thursday last, tendered my resignation to my current employer. Well, that started a whole chain of events, talks, phone calls, and agony of a decision amoungst my family, my current and proposed employers, etc.

Well, thanks to earnest prayer, and comtemplation, (and a raise :) ) I have decided to remain where I am. Much to the joy of my wife, I might say, and to myself in a way. I guess the problems with the situation stem from the fact that it is difficult for me, at times to think not as and individual alone, but as a husband and head of a household. It's not that I can't think that way, or don't, but it is not always my default mode.

Thanks to all for the prayers and thoughts.

My wife is a Saint. I thank God for her every day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Corpus Christi

The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated at the Mass I attended last night. It was an interesting exercise in contrasts.

The church was pretty full, not packed but not a lot of vacant pews either. Interesting thing about going to Our Lady of Grace, at least the Sunday evening service. You never know how many people will be there. Some nights will be at 10% capacity, with some others at 80%. And for no apparent reason. This is a phenomenon that seems to be peculiar to this particular mass at this particular parish. Odd...

The opening hymn was the good 'ole Gather Us In. So we were off to an inauspicious start. But then I noticed that the Altar Boy & Girl were wearing what appeared to be brand-new Cossocks & Surplices!!! Two thumbs up! The "albs" appear to have vanished - hopefully for good this time. Back before I began to blog, in January, if I recall, I commented elsewhere about how, after years and years, the servers had switched from the albs to the old (literally) Cassock & Surplice. A move so bold, so earth shattering, that it merited an announcement from the altar by the priest. He dutifully commented that we should have no fear, the albs were not going away forever, they just felt that the more traditional forms were more appropriate! I was amazed!! Alas, they reappeared for Easter season, much to my chagrin. But now the C&S are back. and this time they appear to be brand-new!

Then, there was a wonderful Sermon. And all very traditional hymns. Then, at the end of the Mass, Father proceeded to process around the inside of the church, with the Monstrance, while we sang Tantum Ergo Scramentum. A very moving sight. Very.

I wonder how many people there appreciate. Really appreciate. What they are experiencing. I know that many times I have not, or at least not paid attention. However, in my most heathenistic moments, I have never treated Church or the Mass as a thing of disdain. Even when I was just going though the motions I at least went through the motions!!!! But what do I see all around me? Ragged shorts, tees, and flip-flops. All combined with a slack-assed, I'm waaaaay too cool to care about this attitude and body language. (I was a professional salesman in a past life, and a damn good one, too. I know how to read body language) Is it just me, and am I allowing my personal prejudices to interfere with my judgement? I mean, If I hated Mass that much, I'd go somewhere else.

Is it parents that are trying to do the "right thing" by dragging their kids to church? If so, you're not doing them any favors. If you can drag them to church, how about dragging them to their closet for some decent clothes!!!! Not necessarily a suit, but a clean shirt with a collar, maybe a tie, and some real pants and shoes!!

The psychology is not hard to follow. For the parents OR the kids. They don't look respectful, they don't dress respectful, how the hell can they be expected to ACT respectful. How the hell can people who dress says "I don't give a s*** " be expected to act like they do??!!

Perhaps for some this will be outside their personal experiance, but here in the south, every Sunday morning and evening (yes, they manage to go TWICE a day), at every Baptist Church, you will see crowds of people dressed in suits and ties, or at least khaki's and shirts and ties, going to church, and acting like human beings!!! And they don't have the real presence to respect. Why then, do Catholics feel like it is their right, or actually more like their duty, to wear shorts and tee shirts??? Can someone answer that question????

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


It has been a tough week. Without going into too much detail, work sucks. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, it's just that I really don't like where I am doing it. I have grown weary of being held responsible for performance, having said performance torpedoed from the outside, and being threatened for it. Makes it hard to get inspired, but I digress... The point of this post is to relate the story of the most moving experience I have ever had in church, anywhere, anytime.

Our first daughter was born 28 days premature. Out pastor at the time, Msgr. Showfety, called on us at the hospital, and baptized the baby right then and there, at age 30 hours. Having assured us, in his warm bedside manner that premature babies are prone to dying at any moment, so she should be baptized immediately. She didn't die, thank God, but I was happy to have him baptize her nonetheless.

Our second daughter was also born 28 days premature, but Msgr. was retired by then, so we called our new priest, Father Duc, and told him the story. We made arrangements to stop by his office for the baptism on our way home from the hospital. When we got there, we spoke for a few minutes, and he said, "Come with me, please". He then led us through he rectory, through the sacristy, and into the empty church. The sun shone through the stained glass, filling the church with a glorious light. It was so silent. The candles, flickering gently, seemed to fill the space with their own, complimentary light. All this mixed with the knowledge, and the feeling, that Jesus was there, physically there, in the tabernacle just a few feet away, watching. It wasn't just the tabernacle, either. He was there, I could feel Him. Looking. I swear if I had looked up and He had been standing there in person, I would not have been shocked. In fact, I remember feeling a bit odd that I couldn't see Him. A feeling at once frightening and overwhelmingly joyous.

Rather than the simple water and oil fill in the rest later we had the first time, Father proceeded to perform the whole ceremony right then and there, right up on the altar. The beauty and force and strength of the words, spoken with just the four of us there, undistracted and undiluted by the usual christening hubbub, was overwhelming. And then, as we finished, looking down at Katherine and knowing what had just happened, and what she had just become - a saint. The essence of simple beauty. The essence of life. And of life everlasting.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bishop Emeritus

Gerald, over at The Cafeteria is Closed, brought to my attention an article about our former Bishop here in the Charlotte Diocese, when He posted about this article from the Charlotte Observer.

I can't say as I knew a whole lot about Bishop Curlin, though from all I have heard he seemed to be a kind and gentle soul. In fact, this article brings to mind that it is entirely possible to be sincere and good, and simply be wrong about things. So often, in this liturgical squabble that surrounds us, we tend to look at "the other side" and growl.

Bishop Curlin is a good man, he is just wrong. And in this article, his whole argument is that it would be wrong for the Church to go back to "stern ritualism, Latin Masses and personal piety instead of social action". My college logic classes are decades behind me, but isn't this a false dichotomy? Why the assumption that personal piety and social action are mutually exclusive? Did Catholic charity, and charities, suddenly spring into existence in 1965? It seems to me that the Church was running Hospitals, Orphanages, etc. for centuries. Does that not count? And quite frankly I am a bit weary of the idea that the only indicator of being "christian" is to be charitable anyway.

Loving your neighbor is important, yes, but there is no distinction in that alone! The world is full of charitable heathens! Do not the Romans do as much??? I am not advocating ignoring social action as such. Though I DO advocate having it make some sense. I don't see the moral equivalence between recycling drives and rosaries, I'm sorry. I thought the church was here to save souls, not save the whales! Our dioscean paper is chock-full of largely meaningless social action. Recyling drives global warming awareness, etc. GLOBAL WARMING!!! I believe that it's an issue, but what does that have to do with saving souls??? Did Jesus say that the angels in heaven rejoice every time someone reduces their carbon footprint??? Would He???


Okay, I'm back. Or at least closer to being my old blogself. As I said in my previous post, I enjoyed mass this weekend.


"WE ARE A PILGRIM PEOPLE" !!!!???!!!???!!!

What the hell kind of line is that? It's not only lame, it's bad grammar as well. And above all it reminds me of that incongruous "We be jammin'" line from that horrible 1980's remake of "Lean on Me".

How can anyone look at that and not cringe??? What the hell are they thinking? Isn't anyone paying attention? I presume not, simply because I don't doubt the sincerity of those who are involved. The people involved with the music at my parish are reverent and enthusiastic and level-headed. I just have the feeling that no one ever bothered to teach them that there is a better way. God knows they sure don't have any examples to go by or shoot for around here! In fact, they seem to be the top of the game in these parts. At least there is no dancing or clapping or tambourines involved. Given the environment, they have, in fact, done an amazing job in getting it mostly right.

Which as I think about it, brings me to the next point. What if there was some sort of traveling schola that gave concerts and seminars to the church musicians in each diocese?? The concerts would be open to the general public, of course, and the ticket sales might cover the cost and then some. The afternoon before the concert could be devoted to the very basics of chant and classical hymnody. Then the concert would show just how amazing and beautiful it can be. Follow up with a few more classes the next day to help get the "locals" started, and off to the next city!

Any comments??

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I had an absolutely beautiful weekend. I didn't have to work, for once, got to spend lots of time with my wife and children. Had a relaxing Saturday. Sunday we took the girls to a museum in Durham, complete with butterfly house! A big hit, to say the least. Monday, we saved for house and yard work. Even that went off without a hitch. In fact, we took the great leap of going out to a restaurant with the girls, and a great time was had by all. That marks the first time we, as a family, have been to a real restaurant (fast food and barbecue don't count). Kilo is generally a bit, shall we say, enthusiastic (i.e. wide open, I don't call her "wild thing" for nothing). Yet even she was good as gold. Well, maybe bronze. Lima and Delta were both great, too. All in all about as close to perfect as you can get.

I went to mass Saturday evening, which is almost unheard of for me, and it was beautiful. Yes, it was, of course, Novus Ordo, and in english, and the hymns weren't my favorites, but it was very reverent, sincere, and satisfying. The choir, and accompaniment, while not completely traditional, was very good, and gets better all the time, it seems. It was just very very nice.

I have put a great deal of blogeffort into bitching about mass, music, etc. And I am quite sincere in my bitchiness. This time, for some reason, I am ignoring the few sick and misshapen trees, and just relish the beauty of the forest. I thank God for that blessing. I needed it.

And no, all of my fellow friendly trads out there, I am not jumping ship or anything. I still see many things that need changing, and I will continue blogging about them. But for once, with God's grace, I was not distracted from what was there, what was happening RIGHT THERE, on that altar. The whole absurdly preposterous idea that Jesus was there for ME! Giving Himself to me as if I deserved it! Me in all my weakness and unworthiness. How could anyone see that, believe that, and not be moved to tears?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


My wife wears pants. Even to Church. There, I said it. I never really gave it a second thought, at least beyond noting it to be the case, that is. You see, she hates skirts and dresses, and does not own any, period. She dislikes shorts as well, though she owns a few pair which she wears at the beach or pool.

I always thought that it was unusual, but kind of nice at the same time. You see, I generally dislike the things too. Skirts and dresses always seemed to me to be a bit impractical and awkward. I may be wrong, never having worn them, but it just seems that way to me. Now I will tell you that she always dresses modestly and neatly and is the most faithful, conservative Catholic I have ever known. She not only brought me back into the Church when I was lost and had drifted away, she brought in her best friend, as well. She is truly devoted to our faith.

I never put any other meaning to it at all - her attire, that is. But, apparently, there are a lot of people in the world of traditional minded Catholics who find it offensive. To all of you out there, I apologize in advance, because I just don't get it. I can see getting upset about sloth and slothful appearance (they go hand-in-hand IMHO). That bothers me even outside of church - it upsets me tremendously in Church. I find it offensive as hell to see people go to communion in ragged boat shoes, beat up shorts, and tee shirts with God knows what kind of things them (my personal favorite was "I was a pig at _____ Barbeque").

I have often said that in the pusuit of the truth-in-advertising that people so dressed should have t-shirts that say "I don't give a ____". In fact, maybe have them say it both front and rear, so that those of us who DO give a _____ know to avoid them at all costs. Kind of like the old testament rules about lepers having to say "unclean, unclean" whenver someone would approach. Man, now that I think about it, that's a great idea!!! But I digress...

I like to be casual, sure, as does my wife, but not inappropriately slovenly-looking. I don't think that nice, decent casual dress clothes - khaki pants, nice blouse, maybe a jacket on top of that, is inappropriate dress for church. So please don't confuse slack and casual, or criticize the latter because you are disgusted by the former.


I suppose anyone who has read my earlier post on the subject of Extraordinary (or Extra-ordinary) Ministers of Holy Communion would be aware of my thoughts on the matter.

Sunday past, though, beat all of my previous experiences hands down.

As communion time approached, the priest, having prepared the customary 4 chalicettes and 3 extra ciboria for the distribution of communion (to ± 250 people !!!!!) found himself in a bit of a situation. It seems that there were only three EMHC's who voluntarily went up to the altar to "serve". Well, the common sense options would seem to be 1) give the three ciboria to those three and they, plus the priest could distribute the sacred hosts, skipping the precious blood distribution entirely. or 2) give one ciborium and two chalicettes to the three busybodi... I mean, volunteers and run that way - four people-two species.

But nooooooo. The priest proceeds to call for any EMHC's to come forward to help. So the rest of the congregation sits patiently while three others have to get out of their pews, and amble slowly up to assume their roles. And actually, it was more interesting than that, because there were more than three potential volunteers, which lead to a kind of To Tell The Truth style halfway sitting-standing-alternatating for a bit before it actually settled out who the choice three would be!

This kind of madness will go on until some authority (Rome) says, simply, NO. If there is ANY kind of "except in _____ cases" wiggle room, it will never ever stop. I kind of have the idea that God got it right on Sinai. Being the smart God that he is, he stuck with "thou shalt not". Not "that shall not, except when". Maybe the Powers that Be in the Vatican should look to God in this case. He seems to be a good role model.

Slacking Off

I have been slack in my blogging lately, I know. Special thanks to the Cannonball for bringing this to my attention. I apologize to my loyal reader!

I tend to fall behind on many things in the summertime, because my teaching requires two nights plus all-day Saturdays. This in addition to my usual 7-6 regular job. Factor in the children and wife and I just don't get much time to do anything, including sleep.

That combined with the fact that the fatigue brings with it a certain lack of focus and energy means that I get slack.

But MAN does it feel good that I am missed!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


My new missal came yesterday! It is beautiful, and I can't wait to have the time to look through it and begin to read the prayers, readings, etc. I am amazed that it came so soon! I am hoping to get a few minutes to go by church, sit quietly, read and reflect this afternoon.

And this at the same time that Father Z (and others) is reporting this!

I only hope that our Bishop is following this. I pray that he is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Music & Books

Ahhh, my first meme! Courtesy of my friend Carolina Cannonball

How many books do you own?
Enough to occupy the majority of four bookcases, plus maybe 8 boxes.

Book(s) I am reading now:

Somebody's Got to Say It! by Neal Boortz

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
1- The Bible
2- Saint Joseph's Daily Missal
3- Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
4- Robert Frost, The American Library Edition
5- Star Man's Son by Andre Norton

Now for the music...

Five favorite songs:
Rover - Jethro Tull
Hey Porter - Johnny Cash
Sing Sing Sing - Benny Goodman
Dark Night of the Soul - Loreena McKennitt
One More for the Road - Frank Sinatra

Three favorite music artists:
Johnny Cash
Frank Sinatra
Nanci Griffith
Loreena McKennitt
Ian Anderson

Three favorite composers:
Aaron Copland

Favorite song when you were a little kid:
I can't remember. I sang constantly so who knows?

Favorite song you wish you could sing:
Come Sail Away by Styx

Favorite type of music:
everything but Rap

Least favorite song:

Morning Has Broken

Least favorite type of music:

Favorite music instrument:
Tie between Violin/Fiddle and Banjo

Musical instrument you wish you could play:


Tagging two friends.

Man this is tough. To narrow down to just a few favorites on such short notice is very very hard. I could easily do an ipod playlist in response to a couple of these!
Or a card Catalog - for those of you who remember what they were.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Thousand Words

My New Missal

I just ordered my brand new 1962 Missal from Catholic Overstock. It is the Baronius Press version, and was on sale for 50% off. That's right, ladies and gentlemen HALF PRICE. Including taxes and shipping, that made my total a bit over thirty bucks! I have been wanting to buy one for six months or so, but the $60 price (both from Baronius Press and Angelus Press) was a bit too much to swallow, at least without a mass in which to use the missal in the first place! But at this price, I couldn't see waiting.

Now comes the anticipation! I have been using the remains of a hand-me-down Saint Joseph's Daily Missal to read and refer to. This is made quite difficult by the fact that the binding was about 80% destroyed 20-some years ago by my then puppy Border Collie (as was every book on the bottom two shelves of my bookcase). The semi loose-leaf format can be a bit difficult, so I am all the more excited about the new one. Not that I have use for it in an actual mass right now, as there are none in these here parts, but I am hoping and praying every day that, God willing, that will change soon.

I don't know how many will read this, or are wanting to buy a missal, but it's impossible to beat that price. You can't hardly buy an old one on ebay for that. Plus, unlike ebay, I have no worries about condition, or which version of the missal I am getting. I am no expert on these things but I know that many small changes to the mass and the calendar were made in the 1950's and I would be hard pressed to know which version is which. With a new one, I have the you betcha 10-4 roger official version. I have never dealt with them before, so I have no experience on which to base a recommendation, but if you are looking to buy a missal, they are worth a look.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Church Music

Irreconcilable. That's the only way to describe it - yesterdays Mass.

How can a service that starts out with what is possibly the most insipid song to ever be performed in or out of Church also include a breathtaking Ave Maria ( I cried ) and a chanted Salve Regina??? How so the decisions get made that leave you with that conundrum???

I could see if all of the music was glorious, or all of the music was lame. That would be understandable - the music director would be either a genius or a tasteless idiot. But how do you get half-and-half?

I am not trying to be a cranky old blogger, the mass was beautiful, plain and simple. I just don't get it. I would appreciate any input....

Mothers Day

My wife is perfect. Yes, I know, that only the Blessed Mother was perfect, and yes, I know what that means. My wife is perfect for me. If I could write a description of everything I needed or wanted in a wife, I'd still wind up with her, I have no doubt.

That having been said, she is also as perfect a Mom as she could possibly be and still be human. She is loving, patient - strong and soft at the same time. She is so focused on teaching and nurturing our three girls that I am constantly amazed. I mean, I try to be a good Daddy, and I think I do okay, but I am nowhere near her league. The funny thing is, that, prior to the birth of our first child some 5 years ago, she would not - literally would not - hold a baby. That fear/hesitance lasted about three days, and since then she has been on an uninterrupted climb to Mommy Stardom. I am so lucky. I am so blessed.

I guess I was in childhood, too. My own mother, who passed on 15 years ago this week, was amazing. She made me who and what I am (at least the good parts). I Loved her dearly. I still do, I suppose, and always will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Music and Mass


I know this may be considered heresy by some in the traditionalist world, considering their (and my) love for sung high masses, etc. However, the fact is that the music in most Catholic churches is as weak as circus lemonade - and I'm not talking about insipid lyrics here. This is coming from someone who LOVES to sing, in church and otherwise, and does so pretty well, having been complimented on my voice many times. I much prefer the semi-silent, spoken "low" mass to the far more common four-hymn semi-sung variety. Not that I don't love chant and singing in mass. In fact, during lent, the other church I attend had the usual four hymns, plus chanted kyrie, sanctus, and agnus dei, and I loved it.

That may seem somewhat bi-polar, but I think it's the right way. If you are going to be silent, prayerful, reverent, then be so, if you are going to sing, then sing it all!! Don't try to compromise, because then all you get is a mess -- enough singing to intrude upon and prevent a reverent-silent atmosphere, but not enough to create a glorious uplifting one.


The other issue, apart from the format, is the quality of the hymns themselves. Some years ago, I noticed that, if a hymn was poorly written and bland, I could look down to the bottom of the page in the hymnal and see the name Schutte. I hear a lot of people on the blogs talk about Haugen & Hass, but I don't seem to hear a lot of their product (though what I do hear is bland).

I am no music theorist, but it seems to me that, if you begin to sing a hymn and it is pleasant, flows well, and is both easy and rewarding to sing, it was written proir to the last century. Those hymns sing like they were meant to be sung. On the other hand, the newer hymns seem to be stilted and lame. There are many odd, uncomfortable changes in tone and cadence, making them awkward and clumsy. It's as if the writers couldn't write a normal, good song, so they had to throw in a few "twists" to make it "interesting". My lack of musical "literacy" makes me a mere civilian in these matters, but I have common sense and a pretty good ear. I am also observant enough to notice that the older hymns tend to have people singing along joyflly - lots of participation. While the newer ones are almost left unsung save for the choir. With some hymns, it's as if the hymn itself almost makes you sing it in a balls-out from-the-heart fashion. Imaging, for instance, trying to sing Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee softly and with no emation - it's almost impossible. Or Amazing Grace in a cold, lifeless way - it can't be done.

Sing like you mean it, that's the idea. I understand that some people are uncomfortable singing in public, and that's okay, but even hymns sung softly, and with feeling, get to God's ears just fine. Not everybody was given the gift of a beautiful voice, but we were all given souls. A hymn should not be a hindrance to bearing your that soul to God in song.

Sermons and Readings

I had the good fortune to be able to attend mass on Sunday at my "home" Church. And what a treat it was. Father Duc preached one of the most moving, inspiring sermons (I don't like the term "homily", it just plain sounds goofy to me) I've heard in years. Generally he's very good, but this week he was just awesome.

Plus he tied the sermon with the readings of the mass in a real reinforcing positive way. That is something that so rarely happens nowadays. So often a sermon has a passing reference to the Gospel reading, and then rambles on from there. Father Duc is actually generally better than a lot of priests at making the whole package work together, and like I said, he nailed it on Sunday!

Plus... it being the early morning Mass, there was no singing at all. No hymns, no organ, no sung responsorial psalm. LOTS of silence, focus, praying, and reverence.