Friday, January 30, 2015

The Altar During Lent

Lent is approaching, and that means changes for the altar. However, it is good to keep in mind the following for the change of the liturgical season.

A Catholic church cannot be a church without an altar. This is where the Holy Sacrifice takes place. This is where the host is transubstantiated into the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians, and it is at Mass where we see the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

What, then, should be the primary visual focal point in the sanctuary? The altar!

Making the altar a dignified and awe-inspiring element of the sanctuary helps us to achieve a greater sense of reverence concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

How should an altar be decorated? The answer, truly, is not at all. However, an altar may and should be “vested” just as the priest is vested appropriately for Mass. A traditional way of creating a “vestment” for the altar is the antependium or frontal. During Lent, the altar should not be decorated with flowers. Violet, of course, is the liturgical color to be employed.

Here is an example from St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, OR:

For some very good commentary, photos, and explanations, see these links at The New Liturgical Movement blog:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Some Events in the Daily Life of a Priest

Fr. John Boyle, a priest with the Archdiocese of Portland (OR), has been – and will be time and again – the celebrant for the EF Mass said in Bend, OR, twice monthly.

Fr. Boyle posted the following on his Face Book page; it is a very interesting and informative account of some events in the life of a priest. He has kindly allowed us to reprint it here.

*****     *****     *****

As a priest was traveling recently: #Ilovebeingapriest

On the way to Portland airport, before boarding the MAX (tram) a young fellow seems amused to encounter a priest and just wants to do some high fives and join fists and other such greetings. I willingly oblige. If it makes his day...

On the flight from Portland to Bend yesterday, someone was occupying my seat so I ended up sitting next to a lady called Robyn who was reading GK Chesterton's "Man Alive" which I have never read. She's a GKC fan. She had never spoken to a catholic priest before. She likes the mystery of ritual, attracted to the language of the Book of Common Prayer (who wouldn't be?) and a more traditional style of liturgy in the Episcopal or Anglican tradition. She said it was God's will that someone else had taken my seat. Pray for Robyn as she is very open to the Lord. I hope it will not be too long before she speaks with a catholic priest again.

At Bend, while waiting to collect my luggage, I met Teresa who had been on the flight and was going to attend the EF Mass the next day, which I was going to celebrate at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bend. Turns out she was baptized only last Easter and loves the EF Mass. It was nice to see her at Mass today.

After Mass today, I met lots of people, young and old, young families with expectant mothers, who professed awe and wonder at the beauty of the liturgy as celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. Thank you, servers, for doing your part, and for the local chapter of the Society of St. Gregory the Great for singing the chant.

One of those attending said that her son was on the same flight as I was yesterday from Portland. She would have liked him to chat with me - apparently he is a little distant from the Church right now. So pray for him.

An uneventful flight back to Portland, and then the MAX and bus home. On the MAX, many poor people… Pray for a lady who was in distress and who was not very impressed when I didn't offer money to get her car repaired so she could get back to Washington (state). She wanted to know how to get to Providence Hospital. I was trying to get directions on my smart phone but she seemed disgusted that a priest would not help her and, when I asked if she would still like directions to Providence Hospital, said: "I'll ask someone else."

Off the MAX, and waiting for the Number 6 bus home. A man called Larry says: "Hello, Father." So we shake hands and chat. He had just completed a shift at the Convention Center as a security guard. He had enjoyed the chocolate festival!

Still waiting, a car with some young kids drives past, and they laugh when they see a priest waiting for a bus. They wave. One makes a sign of the cross, laughing, so I give a blessing, smiling. They laugh back. Well, my blessing was sincere.

Then another person waiting says: "Are you a Catholic priest?" "Yes," I answer. "You know the Bible says not to call anyone on earth 'father', how is it you allow people to call yourself 'father?'" When I ask if he ever called his dad 'father' he said 'no', only 'dad.' So I couldn't use that argument. OK, what about 'teacher'? Did you ever call your teachers 'teacher’? "Well, yes." "There you are then," I said. "Jesus said not to call anyone on earth teacher..." Well, we weren't getting far, and the bus arrived so the conversation ended. His name is Stephen, whom he recognized as the name of the first martyr.

On the bus, I hear someone ask: "Are you a priest?" I turn round and encounter Robert. He's 56 and homeless. I was shocked. I thought he was just returning home from a hike. He was not the only poor person on the bus. The #6 has many poor people on board. He asked what I thought about all the poor and homeless? We didn't have much time but I listened and expressed my sadness at the situation. He's Lutheran of Swedish descent. Say a prayer for Robert tonight. He does have a roof over his head as he gets some disability benefit.

Then Stephen comes over: "I've been thinking and I think you're wrong about allowing yourself to be called 'Father.'" I said "I know, we'll have to agree to differ but let us be at peace." I shook his hand as I picked up my bag to get off the bus.

And then a walk home and time to sit alone before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus, who awaits my arrival home. And I pray for Robyn, Teresa, all the good people who felt nourished by the Sacred Mysteries celebrated at Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the poor lady on the MAX, Larry, those kids in the car, Stephen, Robert, and the other poor people who were traveling with me on the public transportation system and who are on the margins. And I thank God I am a priest... and a father!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Repent and Believe the Gospel!": Fr. Andersen Homily

Homily for Sunday, January 25th, 2015  

Fr. Eric M. Andersen
Holy Trinity in Bandon/St. John the Baptist in Port Orford
January 25th, 2015

Dominica III Per Annum (Post Epiphaniam)

In the Holy Land, it is still Christmas.  This past Sunday, January 18th, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Manger Square in Bethlehem to celebrate Solemn Christmas Vespers followed by a succession of liturgies and Masses all through the night and ending at dawn on Christmas day, January 19th.  On that same morning of January 19th, the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem entered into the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in solemn procession for the High Mass of the Epiphany.  Decorations for Christmas remain a public sign of the presence of Christians throughout the Holy Land.  Large public displays including Christmas trees, lights, Nativity scenes, and poinsettias adorn the streets, public squares, shop windows, and hotel lobbies.  They are not anxious to take them down.  It is Christmas and will remain so well into February.  This is clearly different from our celebration of Christmas here in the United States.

In the Latin Rite, we now celebrate the third Sunday after Epiphany.  This is true also in Jerusalem, but the Christmas decorations still remain even in Latin Rite sanctuaries because we still await the 40th day after the birth of Christ to celebrate the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.  This will occur for us on February 2nd which is one week from this coming Monday.  The Presentation of the Lord signals the final end of Christmas for us in the Latin Rite.  The Armenians, however, will not observe the Presentation until February 14th, just a few days before Ash Wednesday.   Why the difference?  
Part of the difference may be attributed to the use of the Julian Calendar among the Orthodox Christians of the East.  The Julian Calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar which we observe.  Every 128 years, the Julian Calendar gets one more day behind.  The Greek Orthodox currently celebrate Christmas on January 7th according to the Julian Calendar.  The Armenians in the Holy Land set their celebrations twelve days later on January 18-19th, to avoid crowding and competition for use of the Holy sites.  Each group gets their time and their space.  Christmas therefore lingers.   
On this third Sunday after the Epiphany, we in the Latin Rite may still reflect on the Incarnation and Manifestation of the Lord: the Nativity and the Epiphany.  We begin with the prophet Jonah.  How does our first reading begin?  It begins with these words: Et factum est verbum Domini ad Jonam. . . (And the word of the Lord was made to Jonah. . .).  This is common wording in the Old Testament when God speaks to a prophet.  The Word of the Lord was made to the prophet.  Let’s be clear about this: the Word is from eternity.  The Word is the Son––the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  We must be clear that the Son is not made.  The Word is eternal.  The Son is eternal and begotten from eternity, not made.  At Christmas we reflect on how the Word was made flesh (Verbum caro factum est).  That is what we call the Incarnation. But every time the Lord speaks to the prophets of the Old Testament, it is described as the Word of the Lord being made––Verbum Domini factum est––to the prophet.   
The Word of the Lord, though eternal, continues to be spoken in time to creatures who are made.  The Eternal Word is spoken by the Father, and the Eternal Word which is spoken is the Son.  The breath of God which speaks the Eternal Word is the Holy Spirit.  Here we have an image of the Holy Trinity.  The Father speaks; the Son is the Word spoken; the Holy Spirit is the breath by which the Word is spoken, proceeding from the Father and the Son.  The Holy Spirit is the true Author of all the Holy Scriptures –– every word of them.  There is no insignificant word in the Holy Scriptures because God does not waste one word.  The Eternal Word is God Himself in the Son.   
That Eternal Word of the Lord was made to Jonah.  In other words it was spoken to Jonah; made present in Jonah’s mind and heart. It was given to him and now he has the obligation to speak that word, to make it present to others.  God entrusted this to Jonah because Jonah was made in the image and likeness of God, to be an earthen vessel for the work of God.  He was sent to the Gentiles.  By that word being spoken by Jonah, the course of history was changed.  The city of Ninive was going to be destroyed.  By the Word of the Lord made unto Jonah, and then obediently spoken by Jonah, the city of Ninive was spared.  The men of Ninive repented and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth for 40 days.  God saw their repentance and their works and had mercy upon them.  The course of history was changed because of one man’s obedience to speak the Eternal Word of the Lord made unto him.   
We also are being called to repent. “The time is short” as St. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 7:29).  The “fashion of this world passeth away” (7:31).  The forty days of Christmas are winding down for us this week and the forty days of Lent will be quickly be upon us.  Let us enjoy these last days of the time after Epiphany, but keep in mind that we must begin to prepare soon for the 40 days of Lent.  We are commanded by our Blessed Lord Himself: Repent and believe!  “The time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  These are important words for us today in this very time!  The Eternal Word Himself, the Son of God, now speaks not through the prophet Jonah.  The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us.  He now speaks for Himself directly: “Repent and believe the gospel!”   
What do these words mean?  Repent (paenitemini).  This word is a command in the plural to all.  Paenitemini!  Repent!  Pseudo-Jerome comments: “For he must repent, who would keep close to eternal good, that is, to the kingdom of God.  For he who would have the kernel, breaks the shell” (Catena Aurea).  Here is a helpful image: “he who would have the kernel, breaks the shell.”  We can apply this to eating a nut.  In order to get to the almond or walnut or filbert, we must take a nutcracker or even a hammer and break the shell.  So it is with man.  In order to get down to the kernel, we must break the shell.  We must do mortification.  Mortification belongs to Lent in a special way, but not only to Lent.  It is part of the daily life of a Christian all through the year.  But this is not a life of drudgery.  It is a life of variety.   
A few weeks back I spoke about the calendar year including the days of the week and the months of the year.  Well, throughout each year there is variety.  There are seasons of feasting and seasons of fasting.  We are currently in Ordinary Time after Epiphany but within the 40 days after Christmas.  This is not necessarily a season of feasting, but we do celebrate feasts during this time.  This is not necessarily a season of fasting either, but we do celebrate fasts during this time.  Let me explain:  Each Sunday is like Easter.  It is the day of the Resurrection.  If you are going to feast––to indulge a little––do it on Sunday.  Remember this as a general rule: every Sunday is a feast day and every Friday throughout the year is a day of penance and abstinence.  That might come as surprise to some of you that every Friday is a day of penance and abstinence.  That is something that many people mistakenly attribute only to the life of Catholics before Vatican II.  But Vatican II did not do away with this.  The Church currently obliges all Catholics to do penance and to abstain every Friday through the year.  This is true not just during Lent but on every Friday of the year.  The preference is to abstain from meat but if you are a vegetarian already, or for some other reason, then abstain from something else.  The obligation to do penance is divine law.   Our Father has commanded and so our mother, the Church, lovingly shows us how to obey our Father: observe every Friday as a day of penance and abstinence.   
If you are not already doing this, you will find that abstaining from meat, or chocolate, or wine on Fridays gives you a real sense of joy.  Self-denial is satisfying.  We get down to the kernel by breaking the shell.  We find the kingdom of God in that one day of penance each week and also on the day of feasting on Sunday each week.  God knows that we need this.  It is healthy.  From a purely natural perspective, it is not healthy to feast all the time and it is not healthy to fast all the time.  God made us.  He knows what we need.  He gives us these days of feasting and fasting and these seasons of feasting and fasting to provide variety among our days and to safeguard our good health.   
By doing so, we heed the call not only to repent but to believe.  We must also heed His command to believe!  Believe the Gospel.  Credite!  The Lord uses the same word we use to profess our faith: Credo.  I believe.  If I believe, then I act upon that belief and I repent.  If I profess my faith each week as a Catholic, then I act according to what it means to be Catholic.  Nobody forces me to be Catholic.  It is my choice.  It is a choice based upon the belief that Jesus Christ the Lord is God and that He established one Church and that she is inseparable from Him.  She speaks for Him.  When we hear the voice of the Church, we hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us as the Word was made to the prophets.  Therefore we do not dismiss the precepts of the Church which oblige us to abstain.  We embrace these precepts as coming from God.  We give thanks for these precepts and we are filled with the love of God which impels us to follow these precepts to the best of our ability.  
It is the Lord who speaks: “Repent and believe the gospel!”  We must be willing to break the shell in order to get to the kernel which is the kingdom of God.  If we have not already done so, let us begin by doing something so simple: feasting on Sunday and abstaining on Friday.  As God looked with mercy on the men of Ninive who believed and repented, so God will look with His mercy upon us and grant us life in abundance. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Fresh Start!

This blog is officially up and running again!

There is good news here in the Diocese of Baker, and new life has been breathed into the Society of St. Gregory the Great.

Bishop Liam Cary has approved – and facilitated – the celebration of a regularly scheduled Traditional Latin Mass in Bend, Oregon. The TLM is to be offered at the Historic St. Francis Church in Bend, Oregon, on two Sundays per month.

A short article in the Diocesan Chronicle stated:
The Extraordinary Form of the Mass (“The Latin Mass”) will be celebrated today and every other week at 1:00 PM at St. Francis of Assisi Historic Church. Regular Celebrants for this Mass will be Father Andrew Szymakowski of this Diocese and Father John Boyle from the Archdiocese of Portland. For more information contact John C. Driscoll at or Stephanie Swee at .

We also invite anyone who is interested in singing Gregorian chant to contact Stephanie Swee.

Most recently, Fr. John Boyle for the Archdiocese of Portland celebrated the extraordinary form Mass on January 18 – and he posted this photo on his Face Book page.

 Please share this blog with others, and be sure to “like” us on Face Book in order to keep up with scheduling of the TLM, other events, and current events in the world of beautiful and reverent liturgy.