Friday, December 19, 2008

Priesthood "indispensable"

"It is never too often said that the priesthood is indispensable to the Church, in the very own interest of the lay faithful. Priests are a gift from God to the Church. Priests must never delegate to the faithful [those] functions which are related to their own mission. Dear Brothers in the episcopacy, I ask you to remain desirous to help your priests live in intimate union with Christ. Their spiritual life is the foundation of their apostolic life. You shall exhort them gently to daily prayer and to a dignified celebration of the Sacraments, particularly of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, as Saint Francis de Sales did with his priests. Every priest should be able to feel glad to serve the Church. At the school of the Curé d’Ars, son of your land and patron of all priests of the world, do not cease to repeat that a man can do no greater deed than to give the Body and the Blood of Christ to the faithful, and to forgive sins…."

-- from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of France on the Anniversary of his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No caption necessary

Just enjoy. And dream of the future.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Celibacy of priests always greatly esteemed by the Church

In his new book, "Reflections on the Priesthood: Letter to a Young Priest" retired Francis Cardinal Arinze says, "The Church has always had great esteem for the celibacy of priests. Christ lived a virginal life, taught chastity to his disciples, and proposed virginity to those who are willing and able to follow a similar call."

"In priestly life, perpetual celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven expresses and stimulates pastoral charity," he added. "It is a special fount of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. […] It is a testimony that stands out before the world as an efficacious way to follow Christ."

The cardinal said that in today's world, "immersed in an exaggerated preoccupation with sex and the violation of its sacredness […] a presbyter who lives his vow of chastity with joy, fidelity and a positive spirit is a testimony that cannot be ignored."

Through priestly celibacy, the prelate continued, "the presbyter consecrates himself more directly to Christ in the exercise of spiritual paternity." He is more available "as a minister of Christ, spouse of the Church," and he can "truly present himself as a living sign of the future world, which is already present through faith and charity."

For more on the new book, visit Zenit.

(Photo of Francis Cardinal Arinze by Siena.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

"He spoke to us of God and he spoke to God of us."

Father Paul Parkerson explains the vocation of the holy priesthood.

(Photo: Fr Paul Parkerson, left, and Bishop Burbidge, of the Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Emerald Isle "green" with vocations

Irish Turn Corner On Voca­tions:
The Irish Times’
Patsy Mc­Garry reported November 24 that the widely acclaimed “ vocations crisis” in Ireland is now “ a myth,” as Irish seminaries now boast the largest number of future priests in years, and the average age of en­trants is dropping.
The national coordinator of di­ocesan vocations, Fr. Paddy Rushe, told
The Irish Times that he expects the number of seminarians to dou­ble and triple in coming years.
McGarry reported: “ Noting that 30 men entered seminaries to train as priests in Ireland last Septem­ber, with 31 having done so in September 2007 and 30 in Sep­tember 2006, [ Rushe] contrasted this with the situation at the be­ginning of the decade when, in 2000 for instance, 13 men entered. Of that number nine were or­dained last year. Of those entering in recent years, he expected that at least 18 would be ordained in each year. ‘ The problem is that when people sign up, it takes six or seven years for them to be ready,’ Fr. Rushe said.
“ This meant that ‘ we are only starting to see people emerge who signed up in 2001, which was a bad year for the Catholic Church as scandals broke and we were at the height of the Celtic Tiger.’ “ Should the numbers of semi­narians continue to rise, he ex­pected an influx of new priests to the Irish Catholic Church by 2014. He forecast that ‘in 2014 we will see twice, if not three times, as many new priests emerging’.”

(As reported by The Wanderer Catholic newspaper.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

James Higgins, altarboy

View this video and see the reason for altar boys: to bring young men closer to the priesthood and thus to the one thing necessary, Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Padre Pio, Priest and Victim

"O rex, dona mihi animam meam pro qua rogo et populum meum pro quo obsecro" [O King, let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request] (Esther 7:3).

"Souvenir of my first Mass.

"Jesus, my heart's desire and my life, today as I raise you up in trembling hands, in a mystery of love, may I be, with you, for the world, Way, Truth and Life, and for you a holy priest, a perfect victim." ( P. Pio, Capuchin.13)

Visit "Padre Pio, Priest and Victim" for most highly recommended reading
for the Feast of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy.

From Padre Pio, recounting the words of Christ to him in a vision:

"On Friday morning [28 March 1913] while I was still in bed, Jesus appeared to me. He was in a sorry state and quite disfigured. He showed me a great multitude of priests, regular and secular, among whom were several high ecclesiastical dignitaries. Some were celebrating Mass, while others were vesting or taking off the sacred vestments. The sight of Jesus in distress was very painful to me, so I asked him why he was suffering so much. There was no reply, but his gaze turned on those priests. Shortly afterwards, as if terrified and weary of looking at them, he withdrew his gaze. Then he raised his eyes and looked at me and to my great horror I observed two tears coursing down his cheeks. He drew back from that crowd of priests with an expression of great disgust on his face and cried out: "Butchers!" Then turning to me he said: "My son, do not think that my agony lasted three hours. No, on account of the souls who have received most from me, I shall be in agony until the end of the world. During my agony, my son, nobody should sleep. My soul goes in search of a drop of human compassion but alas, I am left alone beneath the weight of indifference. The ingratitude and the sleep of my ministers makes my agony all the more grievous.

"Alas, how little they correspond to my love! What afflicts me most is that they add contempt and unbelief to their indifference. Many times I have been on the point of annihilating them, had I not been held back by the Angels and by souls who are filled with love for me. Write to your (spiritual) father and tell him what you have seen and heard from me this morning. Tell him to show your letter to Father Provincial ...45"

Sacred Heart Church, "rich in vocations" and altar boys

A server takes the place of one who formerly participated in the minor order of the Acolyte. Although this order has been retained while others have been suppressed and primarily relates to the role of distributing Communion and otherwise assisting the Priest-Celebrant, the boy who volunteers for this position in the Church’s Liturgy must realize the religious character of his undertaking. He is offering himself in God’s service and his lifestyle must reflect his closeness to the Sacred Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. His conduct must be as exemplary off the altar as it is while serving.

Any boy in Sacred Heart Parish in the fourth grade or above is eligible to be a server. After a period of training, he will be inducted into the program at a public Mass and begin a two-year period of probation. During the first year, he will wear a white robe. During the second year, he will wear a wooden Cross with his white robe. After that he will be privileged to wear the cassock and surplice, indicating his full membership.

I think we have some 105 altar boys at Sacred Heart and a parish rich in vocations as we also pray for vocations after the prayer to St Michael after every Mass.

(Thanks to Gerry and where this post originally appeared.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

An all-too-rare Catholic sight

One of our readers sent in a link to the Arlington Catholic Herald drawing attention to a most Catholic sight that has been all but banished from our Catholic parishes. One should ask "why?"

When an option becomes, in practice, enforced as if mandatory, the eclipse of such beautiful and venerable traditions becomes all too inevitable. And a clear preference of the universal Church is discarded in the process.

Recommended for your viewing:

Altar boys in procession at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Gainesville, Va.

(Many thanks to the Herald and to Debbie R.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Parish priest and Pope

As recounted at Rorate Caeli, Pope Saint Pius X, pictured here as a young parish priest, remains a marvelous example for all those who have the "cure of souls".

Rorate Caeli illustrates the connections between this great Pope and the Patron of parish priests, Saint John Vianney:

"His life was mysteriously and providentially connected to the patron of parish priests, St. John Vianney, the Curé d'Ars.

"In the last year of Vianney's life, the young Sarto was ordained to the sacred priesthood - exactly 150 years ago, on September 18, 1858. While Fr. Sarto was a parish priest, Vianney was declared venerable. On the very anniversary of the Venerable John Vianney's death, Cardinal Sarto was elected the Successor of Peter. And it was Pope Pius X who beatified Fr. Vianney. Both were members of the Third Order of Penance (Secular Franciscans)."

Pope Saint Pius X shows us that in holiness of life are kept in balance both the "medicine of mercy" and the severity necessary to condemn evil. As Vicar of Christ he wrote: "the condemnation of error is itself a work of mercy since by pinning down error, those labouring under it are corrected and others are preserved from falling into it." (Iota Unum)

As this society seeks a renewed sincerity and single-mindedness in the apostolate of increasing priestly vocations on the part of the whole Church, so this saintly Pontiff is commended to all as a heavenly patron whose intercession will increase the flood of divine graces in this regard.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"the priesthood is indispensable"

It is never too often said that the priesthood is indispensable to the Church, in the very own interest of the lay faithful. Priests are a gift from God to the Church. Priests must never delegate to the faithful [those] functions which are related to their own mission. Dear Brothers in the episcopacy, I ask you to remain desirous to help your priests live in intimate union with Christ. Their spiritual life is the foundation of their apostolic life. You shall exhort them gently to daily prayer and to a dignified celebration of the Sacraments, particularly of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, as Saint Francis de Sales did with his priests. Every priest should be able to feel glad to serve the Church. At the school of the Curé d'Ars, son of your land and patron of all priests of the world, do not cease to repeat that a man can do no greater deed than to give the Body and the Blood of Christ to the faithful, and to forgive sins. ...

The Pope to the Bishops of France, 14 September 2008

Nothing will ever replace priests!

"Christ has willed that His Sacrifice be renewed, in a bloodless manner, every time that a priest repeats the words of the Consecration over the bread and over the wine. ... Millions of times over the last two thousand years, in the humblest chapels and in the most magnificent basilicas and cathedrals, the risen Lord has given himself to his people, thus becoming, in the famous expression of Saint Augustine, 'more intimate to us than we are to ourselves' (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11). ... The Mass invites us to discern what, in ourselves, is obedient to the Spirit of God and what, in ourselves, is attuned to the spirit of evil. ... [Christ] alone teaches us to shun idols, the illusions of our minds.

"Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to give your life to Christ! Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests at the heart of the Church! Nothing will ever replace a Mass for the salvation of the world! Dear young people, and those not so young who are listening to me, do not leave Christ’s call unanswered!"

Benedict XVI
Mass at the Esplanade des Invalides, Paris
September 13, 2008

(Thanks to friends for inspiration and photo.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Choose Vocation and Choose the Cross

Saint Alphonsus Liguori is a model of hope in the midst of human oppositions. His own life shows the inextricable intertwining of the Lord's Cross and the life of anyone who chooses the priestly dignity, born of the graces and sacrifice of that same Holy Cross.

Since the Son of God established His Church on earth at the price of His sufferings, He does nothing great here below without using the cross as an instrument.
Alphonsus, having been called by Him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, could not escape this rule. Hence how fearfully he had to suffer in his difficult undertaking!

When his project became known, all Naples was let loose against him; he was treated as a visionary, a fanatic, a deluded person, he was even proclaimed from the pulpit as a deplorable example of the fatal illusion of a victim of pride and presumption.
The assaults he had to undergo from his family and his friends were still more bitter to him. His father, a venerable old man, held him pressed to his bosom for three whole hours, speaking most tenderly to keep him in the paternal mansion.
The Propaganda of Naples, to which he belonged, called a meeting of the members against him, and with unexampled animosity unanimously expelled him, and even deprived him of his benefice. What shocks were these to his heart! But his confidence in God supported him against all human attacks and persecutions.

To cap the climax of his humiliations, he saw himself abandoned by his first companions; and this aggravated the public feeling against him. And, indeed, did not such an event seem to justify the public opposition to his project? Did not even God seem to take sides with his adversaries? Alphonsus needed all the faith of Abraham, to keep up his hope in this circumstance. “God does not need me,” he wrote to his director, (who was then also wavering,) “but I stand in need of God.”

He did even more; at the very height of his troubles, he pushed his heroism so far as to oblige himself by vow to continue the work he had begun, were he to remain alone to do it. This was the decisive point; his confidence was soon rewarded by the arrival of new companions.

(The above text was composed by The Servant of God Fr. Louis Bronchain, C.SS.R. 1829-1892. Art is courtesy of and Transalpine Redemptorists.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Doing what is best for the needs of the Church

Is there a "half-way" between the Church's preference for having men serve on the altar and the desire to incorporate women? A dialog is necessary if the Church is to sincerely act as well as speak in favor of vocations to the priesthood.

A corps of altar boys that truly reflects the priesthood is the authentic and immemorial means to offer young men the opportunity to begin their discernment of the possibility of a priestly vocation. Can we not ask for sacrifice on the part of some in favor of a good for all?

One parish has taken action which calls for sacrifice on the part of some in favor of a more virile support of nascent vocations. From The Capital Times of Madison, WI:

Mazomanie church nixes altar girls

Pat Schneider — 6/25/2008 5:07 pm
Members of St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie say they are stunned to learn that the priests leading their Catholic community will no longer allow their daughters to be servers at Mass. From now on, only boys will be able to assist priests in the ancient religious rite.
The new policy was announced at a meeting with parents Tuesday by Rev. John Del Priore, who was assigned to the parish on June 1.

"It's an outrage," said Tammy Parks. "They said it was a good way for boys to be indoctrinated into being a priest." After letting her 11-year-old daughter know that she would no longer be allowed on the altar, Del Priore asked her 8-year-old son about his interest in becoming an altar boy, Parks said in an interview. "Not only is the priest discriminating against my daughter, he's teaching my son that that is appropriate behavior," she said. Parents at St. Barnabas are so distressed that there is talk of having the boys boycott altar duty.

The Catholic Church broke with centuries of tradition in 1994, when the Vatican said girls would be allowed to join "altar boys" in assisting priests at Mass.

It is up to the local bishop to decide whether to allow lay women, or girls, to serve when needed, said Brent King, director of communications for the Madison Diocese. Female servers have been allowed in the Madison Diocese, King said, but it is ultimately up to each individual priest to decide whether he needs help at the altar. Priests may ask whomever they wish to assist them, so long as that person is a Catholic in good standing, King said.

He stressed that servers take on the duties of acolytes, traditionally a low clerical rank.
"Neither lay women nor lay men have the right to carry out the function of acolyte," King said.
Altar service is being reserved for boys to promote vocations to the priesthood, Rev. Jared Hood, one of a group of priests that serves the St. Barnabas cluster, said in an interview. Hood said he is a member of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a religious order that ministers to boys to inspire them to become priests. The order offered its services to the Madison Diocese, which is consolidating parishes because of a shortage of priests.

"Very many priests began as altar boys," Hood said. "Without contact with a priest it's difficult for boys to even think about a vocation as a priest." He first learned about the order of which he is now a member as an altar boy in New Jersey, he said.
Four priests from the order now oversee a cluster of five parishes: St. Barnabas, St. Aloysius in Sauk City, St. Norbert in Roxbury, St. John the Baptist in Mill Creek, and St. Mary in Merrimac. Hood said boys only will be servers for each of the parishes.
That's been the case at St. Aloysius for more than a year, and the furor that met the change in policy has evaporated, said Ann Cicero, a secretary for the parish whose sons serve as altar boys.
The commitment by parish boys to altar service is proof that it's right to reserve it for boys, she said. When girls were allowed to be servers, it became less popular among boys. Now that it's a thing for boys only, they revel in it.
Besides, having girls on the altar is misleading about what the church is about, she said.
"Women are not ordained," Cicero said.

The boys meet weekly with priests for training, spiritual growth and outings as the group, St. Michael Altar Guild, a practice that strengthens their ties to the church and parish community, she said. Girls, too, meet regularly and do things "more appropriate for girls."
Cicero said several young boys have begun to talk about vocations to the priesthood.
Jim Schmitt of Mazomanie said that for his 11-year-old daughter, being an altar girl was a way to give back to the church.

Today a Madison firefighter, Schmitt said he was an altar boy at Queen of Peace parish in Madison. He took pride in that role, but never thought of it as preparation for a vocation as a priest. It was a tradition, though. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had served as altar boys.
"If someone has a vocation, how does serving with a girl interfere with that?" Schmitt asked. "I don't see why we're regressing."
Parks, an attorney, said discrimination is significant issue for her personally.
"To have it in my own by parish, by my own priest, is repugnant," she said.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, patron of priestly vocations, pray for us.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Church has an identity

" will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar."

(Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, March 15, 1994, no. 2).

The Church knows who she is and what is best for her life and mission, as does every organization on earth.

The Church knows that the Eucharistic Presence of her Divine Founder, the God-Man, is necessary for her existence and so, therefore, also are priests who make the Lord truly present in their celebration of the divine Liturgy.

All things given to holy Church which encourage the flourishing of vocations to the priesthood are to be held as primary to, and preferred over, anything which simply expresses the temporal desires of individuals which may or may not be simply a distracting fascination with worldly and superficial fashions or trends.

The Church prefers and lauds the service of men on the altar, evident simply by pointing to her long and immemorial traditions.

For these reasons it is a good and holy thing to uphold, support and actively encourage the reservation of roles of service at the altar to boys and men.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Corpus Christi Procession

Members of the Liguori Society sponsored the procession for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi at the Church of Saint Philip the Apostle on 25 May.
The thurifers are vested in festive red and lead the procession from the church.
We pause to give honor to our Eucharistic Lord using incense to symbolize our praise and adoration.
The Umbraculum—Italian: Ombrellino (from Latin umbra 'shade' for a sun-umbrella) — is a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church and the authority of the Lord vested in it, particularly in the person of the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Peter and his successors in the papacy.
The name of the "monstrance", the gold sunburst-shaped vessel used to carry the host in procession, comes from the Latin word for "to show". The Blessed Sacrament is placed inside a glass window so that the faithful can see the Lord and adore Him.
The faithful following their Lord in procession chant the Litany of the Sacred Heart in traditional Gregorian style.
We pause at the Marian shrine for Benediction, the blessing of the faithful by the Lord truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
"O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, we adore Thee! Amen! Alleluia!"
Thanks to Ben Rose for photos and Clare Rose for technical support.