Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our Christian Identity: Fr. Andersen

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR
April 28th, 2013
Dominica V Paschae

“I…saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Apoc. 21:2)

Earlier this week, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and preached on the Feast of St. George, an early Christian martyr. Looking to the example of the martyrs, he recalled ‘the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.’ And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so,” Pope Francis continued, “the Church goes forward…‘amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord.’ And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world…we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken. (Pope Francis. Homily of April 23rd, 2013).
This message of persecution and consolation continues throughout the reading of the Acts of the Apostles. Today again, we hear in our first reading: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21). Now isn’t this a bit hard to swallow? How can persecution bring consolation? What is the consolation that it brings? Well, it should bring peace and security. There is peace and security in the arms of our holy Mother the Church. Let me explain.

In our second reading today, St. John writes: “I…saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Apoc. 21:2). The Church is glorious. Glorious things of thee are spoken, O City of Sion, O Holy Mother Church. We cannot sing the praises of the Church enough. We refer to the Church in the feminine because she is the Bride of Christ. As Catholics, we refer to the Church as our mother because we are the children. Pope Francis preaches that she “became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity.” The Bride becomes a mother when each of us is born again from the holy font of Baptism into new life in Christ. God is our Father. The Church is our mother. If the world persecutes us, we can understand how a mother is a source of consolation. Mothers know how to console their children. We run to our mothers for comfort when we are hurt. They console us.

And so our holy Mother the Church is our consolation amidst the persecutions of the world. Without our holy Mother the Church, we are lost because the Church is truly the family of God. We are made for family and it is important that we receive the blessings of our parents and that we receive an inheritance from our parents. I am not talking here about money, but about blessing. Our inheritance, as children, is passed on through the family.

If we sever ourselves from the family, how can we expect to receive our inheritance? So it is with the Church. If we sever ourselves from the Church how can we expect to receive our inheritance which is heaven? If we sever our relations with our family––the Church––our names will be blotted out from the last will and testament of our Lord which is the Book of Life. At the Last Judgement, our names must be written in the Book of Life. Therefore there is no inheritance, no salvation for those whose names are not written down or those whose names have been struck from the book.

Pope Francis spoke also about this last Tuesday. He said: “Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because…it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church.” The Church has always taught this: Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, which means––outside the Church there is no salvation. This is such an audacious claim that it should make us squirm a little bit. That we might react in such a way means that this teaching is greater than us. It is beyond us. It requires faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to understand this teaching. When we are members of the family, in good standing with the family, we can understand this teaching. In other words, when we are in a state of sanctifying grace, our minds are clear and our souls are filled with the Holy Spirit who gives the gift of knowledge, of understanding, and of wisdom. These are divine gifts. These divine gifts bear the sweet fruit of faith, which like any fruit must first be planted, cultivated, pruned, and finally, the fruit of faith ripens in the bright light and warmth of the Son of God.

There is consolation in eating ripe and sweet fruit. God provides the soil, the sun, the rain, and the knowledge to bring forth such ripe and sweet fruit. The fruit is faith. But faith cannot survive without grace. Grace is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not dwell in a soul which has been poisoned by grave sin. We can understand this if we consider that good fruit will not come from soil that has been poisoned and destroyed by toxic waste. Sin is toxic waste. Good and sweet fruit will not grow and ripen from toxic soil.

There is a seminar coming up in a few weeks called the Healing of Families Seminar. This is being held at St. Joseph’s in Salem and at the Kaiser Civic Center on May 17th and 18th, Friday evening and Saturday of Pentecost weekend. A Ugandan priest named Fr. Joseph is coming from Florida to lead this seminar. We are talking about the family here today. The Church is a family in the ideal sense. But some of us cannot identify with what a healthy family looks like. Sometimes we struggle with sin because of our family. Sometimes sins are passed down from our family. Sometimes these sins span many generations. These generational sins are like toxic waste in the soil that persists in our family garden. These sins can become bigger than us. We might find that we just cannot break the chains all by ourselves. We need God’s help. The soil of the family must go through a purification process. How can we understand the glorious beauty of the Church as a family if our own family experience is poisoned?

We all know what a healthy family is supposed to look like. In a healthy family, we find a source of consolation. Maybe we have given up hope that our family could ever be a source of consolation for us. But faith, hope, and charity inspire us not to despair. You can turn things around for your family. Now, this seminar is not magic. But it uses the Church’s teachings to help us see how God wishes to bless us and not to curse us. The enemy of our souls, the devil, or satan, wishes to curse us and our families and to separate us from them and the Church. He seeks to destroy hope, to destroy faith, to destroy charity. He sows seeds of doubt, rebellion, unforgiveness, rupture, separation, and despair. This happens in families. The devil will promise us consolation with worldly things, but he is a liar and he never delivers what he promises. He leaves us cursed instead, alone, thinking we have nowhere to turn.

But we can always turn back, re-converting our hearts and minds, our lives and wills to the Lord and His Church. We must seek the consolation of God above human consolation. But we find the Lord’s consolation in human ways. We must learn to discern the difference. If we are to endure suffering, let it be for the right reasons. Let it be a source of joy for the Lord and for the building of His kingdom on earth. The sweet joy of evangelization begins with persecution, with great sadness and ends in joy. That is the paradox. But it is the paradox that informs our faith in the Cross of Christ that we are called to carry. Let it be a cross of joy for each of us. Let us renounce all false crosses, all false promises, all that is false and ugly; and cling to all that is true and good and holy and beautiful. That will be the only true consolation that we find in this life and it will only be found where our Lord Jesus Christ is, and where the Holy Spirit dwells: within the Bride of Christ, our Holy Mother the Church, and in all souls that are in a state of sanctifying grace filled with the Holy Spirit bearing the sweet fruit of faith. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vortex: Another Aussie Saint?

Here's the story of a woman many Australians hope will be their second saint: Eileen O'Connor, who founded the religious order of Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor, despite the fact that she herself was crippled and in severe pain for most of her life. She died at the age of 28, and seventeen years later, her body was found to be incorrupt.

Eileen O'Connor

Go to their website to learn more about this order of nun-nurses, nicknamed the "Brown Nurses" for their brown cloaks and bonnets, chosen in honor of St. Joseph.

Watch this episode of the Vortex for other details.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fr. Andersen Homily: The Structure of the Mass

Fr. Eric Andersen

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR
April 21st, 2013

Dominica IV Paschae

Normally each Sunday is named by the first few words of the Entrance Antiphon from that Mass. For instance, during Lent we had Laetare Sunday named after the Introit. A few weeks ago, we had Quasi modo Sunday from the first two words of the Introit: Quasi modo (in the manner of newborn babes, alleluia). You recall that the hunchback of Notre Dame was named ‘Quasimodo’ because he was found on Quasi modo Sunday.  Today, the Entrance antiphon does not lend its name to the Sunday. Today is known historically as Good Shepherd Sunday but the Entrance antiphon says nothing about a good Shepherd. This week the name comes from the Gospel. Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd. Now, as I said, this theme is not introduced to us in the Entrance Antiphon today. But the Good Shepherd is the theme of the Communion antiphon which we sing.

As a general rule, the Communion antiphon will always repeat the theme of the Gospel for the day. It has been customary for the last few decades to sing a devotional hymn during Communion. These devotional hymns normally focus on themes such as bread, or the Body of Christ, or adoration. But if we look at the actual texts of the Mass itself, we find that the Communion antiphons rarely if ever speak about bread, or the Body of Christ, or about Communion, unless those are the theme from the gospel. Why is that? Why do the Communion antiphons always repeat the theme from the gospel? What is the connection between Holy Communion and the Gospel?

We have to look at the whole structure of the Mass in order to answer this question. To begin with, let me just point out that the Mass is divided into two parts: The Liturgy of the Word, also known as the Mass of the Catechumens; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, also known as the Mass of the Faithful. These “two main parts of the Mass…stand as parallel movements, each with its own sense of progression through significant parts to a high point” (William Mahrt,  The Musical Shape of the Liturgy, Kindle Location 300). The high point of the Liturgy of the Word is “the gospel, the book which represents the words of Christ himself, and which is given priority of place; this high point is emphasized and prepared by” all that comes before it. “The homily and Credo which follow can be seen as an amplification and a complement to it” (Mahrt, Loc. 303ff).

So all that leads up to the gospel prepares us to meet Christ in the word. God prepared mankind for millennia by means of the word – the Old Testament. After we have been prepared, then the high point of the Liturgy of the Word, at a High Mass, is when we process with a book which contains the written words of Jesus Christ Himself. We meet Jesus Christ in the Word. He is made manifest in the Word. “In the beginning was the Word”, as St John’s Gospel reveals. But the Word must become flesh. The word itself is not enough. God did not leave us merely with the word. No, He became flesh and dwelt among us.

That leads us to the second part of the Mass. How is the second part of the Mass parallel to the first part? Let’s take a look at that: In the first part of the Mass, we present ourselves to God by first confessing our sinfulness and seeking God’s mercy (the Kyrie). In the second part of the Mass we present not ourselves, but things that represent ourselves: money in the collection basket and the presentation of the bread and wine. These are brought forward to offer to God. They represent the faithful. Bread and wine are incapable of acknowledging their sinfulness and they cannot cry out “Lord have mercy.” But the bread and wine can be purified by means of offering them to God, incensing them, calling down the Holy Spirit to descend upon them and transform them. So, here we see the parallel of the penitential rite.

Next we sing of God’s glory (the Gloria). The Gloria is paralleled in the second part by the Sanctus. Both of them are the songs of the angels. Both of them are songs that praise and glorify God. The priest then prays to God and we listen as God gradually reveals Himself to us through the words of divine revelation. What follows the Gloria is the priest’s prayer and the gradual manifestation of Christ in the word. What follows the Sanctus is the priest’s prayer and the gradual manifestation of Christ not in the word but in the flesh. In the first part, the Gospel – Christ in the Word – is raised up and proclaimed. That is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. What is the high point of the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

Is it when Christ in the flesh is lifted up to the Father? One would think so, but the elevation of the Eucharist is not the high point of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. According to William Mahrt, the high point that parallels the Gospel is the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer. Why is that? Consider that when the Gospel book is raised up in procession, that is still the preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel. Once the Gospel is actually proclaimed, it is no longer raised up. It is brought down where the priest can see it and proclaim it.

It is a parallel action to the procession of the Gospel when the priest lifts up the Word made flesh in the Eucharist. He says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” But those are not the words of Christ. Those are the words of St. John the Baptist. Christ Himself speaks in the Gospel and Christ Himself speaks when He teaches us how to pray to the Father. Christ Himself has become flesh and Christ Himself speaks at the high point of the Liturgy of the Eucharist by praying on our behalf to the Father. That is the Gospel come to life. The Gospel is the written word of Christ. The Eucharist is the Word made Flesh. Christ now speaks in the flesh to the Father.

But we still have a question lingering out there waiting to be answered. The question was about the connection between the Gospel and Holy Communion. As we have seen, the high point of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the Our Father. The Our Father parallels the Gospel. Where does Holy Communion come into the picture and what does it have to do with the gospel? Let’s look back at the Liturgy of the Word. What follows the Gospel? The Homily and then the Credo. These “can be seen as an amplification and a complement to [the Gospel]” (Mahrt, loc. 303f). They flow out from the Gospel. The Homily is a meditation upon the Gospel. This parallels the Communion antiphon. The Communion antiphon is a meditation upon the Gospel theme. The Credo can be seen to parallel Holy Communion. At the Credo, we who have listened to and met our Lord in the Word, now take that word to ourselves and we profess that word in the Creed. The word becomes our own. At Holy Communion, the Word made flesh becomes our own. We are united with that word in the flesh. This is why we sing about the gospel during Communion.

Does that mean that we are not supposed to sing hymns about adoration? No. Here is where the Church provides. The Communion chant comes first. The Church provides that piece of text to be sung. That text is from the Gospel. But then, the Church provides that a hymn can be sung after that chant. It can be sung either during the purification of the vessels or after the priest returns to his chair. At that point, we can reflect on the popular communion theme of adoration.

Today, our parish children will be receiving their first Holy Communion. They are an inspiration to us. They have been preparing, and today is very special. This is a reminder to all of us. Here is where the parallel needs our attention! The gifts of bread and wine on the altar will be transformed by the words of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit – and that means every particle and every drop. I know that every particle and drop of these gifts will be transformed. But you are gifts too. You are gifts to God.

You remember that at the beginning of the Mass, we present ourselves to God, confessing our sinfulness and singing to His Glory. He prepares us and He provides for us, but He will not force Himself on us. I pray that every person here will be transformed by the receiving of the Holy Eucharist, but I know that I do not have the power to transform anyone in this room. It must come from God and from you. Even if you receive Holy Communion, that does not guarantee that you will be transformed by it. You must have faith, and you must desire to be transformed. You must trust in God that He is more powerful than your sins and your temptations. You must ask God to transform you and your family and your life – every particle and every drop of who you are. If you will not allow God, He will respect your choice, but if you say yes to God, as these children are saying yes to God today, then He can do amazing things in your life as He is doing in the lives of these children. Let us pray that God will continue to find an open door when He knocks on the hearts of these children and all the children of God here in this congregation today. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

FSSP Video: Seminary Done Right

My friend Larry lives where there is a large and active FSSP (Fraternitas Sacredotalis Sancti Petri) community. The FSSP is the international order of priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass and all the other Sacraments in accord with the pre-Vatican II rites. They are the largest of such orders in fully regular canonical status with the Church.

Ah, if only we could have an FSSP presence in the Diocese of Baker! That seems not to be a possibility at this time, due to several factors, including the FSSP’s own perception of the destitute state of spiritual health here, and the likely inability of our diocese to support an FSSP community. Pray for a renewal of our Catholic identity and an appreciation for the treasures of the extraordinary form of the Mass!

Larry presented this video about the FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary and the following commentary on his blog:

The Fraternity has many, many outstanding requests from dioceses in North America to fill a standing need for Traditional Latin Mass parishes where presently none exist, or there is inadequate “coverage.” They also have to turn away many men from their seminary due to lack of space. Their chief limiting factor at this time is funding. If they had more funds to hire more staff and expand the physical plant of the seminary, more priests could be trained and more dioceses could have not just Masses, which are the heart of all the Church does, but all the elements of Tradition that come from these exceedingly well trained, faithful, and orthodox priests. I can say that while the TLM is a gift beyond treasure and such an infinite source of Grace and edification, but having all the other aspects of traditional Catholic community are also immensely important and beneficial. It is like a little slice of Heaven.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

St. Benedict Joseph Labre: Fr. Andersen

This post is by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR

St. Benedict Joseph Labre, Feast Day April 16th


Last year on this day, I was reading the Roman Martyrology and the name of St. Benedict Joseph Labre jumped out at me. I knew nothing about him, but his name was familiar. It turned out that I had a full length biography about him in my bookcase (Agnes de la Gorce. St. Joseph Benedict Labre. Trans. Rosemary Sheed. New York: Sheed and Ward. 1952). So, I read a short account of his life and was captivated. I had to know more. Within two days I had read the entire book and was summarizing it for a Sunday sermon. He had become a good friend of mine and I wanted others to know him too. He might seem like an unlikely friend if you were to see him along the way, but I want to tell you about him and how the love of God was truly made perfect in him. I think he will become dear to your heart too.

St. Benedict Joseph Labré was born in the north of France in 1748. He was the oldest of 15 children and his parents were farmers. He had great potential. He was the most intelligent student in the village school, so his parents decided that it would be worth it to send their eldest son to study for the priesthood. So, at twelve, Benedict went to live with his uncle who was a priest at a neighboring village.

His favorite spot became the library and his favorite book was an old collection of sermons by a French priest who had gone blind. Young Benedict was so taken by these sermons that he began to desire more and more to be a saint. He wanted to give himself completely to God in a life of self-denial.

One night, a visiting priest came to stay and all evening he spoke about his visit to the Abbey of La Grande Trappe. Young Benedict was captivated and from then on, his dream was to become a Trappist monk. Meanwhile, the plague struck the village and Benedict helped his uncle in caring for the sick. His uncle the priest died of the plague. At the age of eighteen, his parents would not give him their blessing to enter the faraway Abbey of La Trappe, but they did agree upon the local Carthusian monastery. When Benedict sought entry, they rejected him due to frail health. But another Carthusian community accepted him and at nineteen, he joyfully entered. A few weeks later, he came home to his parent’s farm. He had experienced a “terrible misery…like no other suffering on earth” (Gorce, 52).

At the age of 21, Benedict left his family convinced that he must try again to enter the monastery. Three months later, he wrote to his parents that the Carthusians found him unsuited to their life and that he had left them. He wrote: “I look on this as a command from God calling me to something more perfect still – they said themselves that it was the hand of God taking me from them. I am therefore setting out for La Trappe, where I have always so longed to go” (cf. p. 66). He begged for their blessing. This would be the fulfillment of his life’s dream. But La Trappe refused to have him. He had not waited long enough since leaving the Carthusians. Impatience was not compatible with the self-denial needed of a monk.

Benedict walked across France for nearly a month to reach another monastery. He knocked on the door of the Abbey of Septfonts and he knelt and begged to enter. At the age of twenty-two, he became Frère Urbain. He suffered a great spiritual desolation there and despaired of God’s love for him. He suffered from scrupulosity and accused himself of sins he had not even committed. In April he fell seriously ill and the superior came to visit him in the monastery infirmary. “Brother Urbain heard these words: ‘My son, God is not calling you to our order.’ …The novice murmured: Fiat voluntas tua [thy will be done]” (Gorce 74).

When he recovered, he decided that he must make a pilgrimage to Rome, to the tombs of the apostles. During this journey, “In a burst of light, he suddenly realised that his vocation was to be a pilgrim” (76-77). His life was not without direction. “With the same total submission as he had brought to the monastic life, he now embraced the career of a pilgrim, as if it were an established way of life” (78). He still believed, however, that after his pilgrimage, he would someday enter a monastery somewhere.

His spirituality was growing away from scrupulosity to serenity by reading from the sermons of Luis of Granada which he carried with him on his journeys by foot across Europe to visit all the major shrines between 1770 and 1777.

Upon visiting Assisi, he stayed with Franciscans and they gave him a rope from the Franciscan habit to wear around his waist. His religious garb became the clothing of a pilgrim. He wore a cloak with the rope tied around his waist, a rosary around his neck, a three-cornered hat, a crucifix, and a wallet in the form of a bag in which he collected holy cards, medals, and other mementos of his pilgrimages. He carried four books with him: a Bible, the Roman Breviary, the Imitation of Christ, and the Sermons of Luis of Grenada. Sometimes he added rocks to make his load heavier as a form of penance.

He was often considered to be a tramp and a beggar, and even children sometimes yelled at him and threw rocks at him. He offered this humiliation up as a sacrifice of love to God. Others recognized his purity of heart and in his many encounters with the sick and the down-hearted, he is remembered as being a source of comfort and even of miraculous healing.
He settled in Rome in 1777. He lived for a time at the Coliseum under the fifth station of the Cross. He slept on ferns and straw there and erected a small chapel where he prayed the breviary in Latin by candlelight. He then made the Way of the Cross by moonlight, extending out his arms in the form of the cross and offering himself to God as a victim to be humiliated, spat upon, scorned; a worm and no man. He never begged for alms, but he received what was given in charity. He took only as much as he absolutely needed and often gave away even that, especially if he saw a mother with children who were hungry.

He took it upon himself to preach truth and goodness and purity to pilgrims, beggars, rich and poor. People remembered him and listened to him. He was known as a saint on the streets of Rome. He sought out the Blessed Sacrament wherever it was exposed for adoration. He had three spiritual directors and confessors in Rome and, although he felt himself unworthy to receive Holy Communion, he did so out of obedience on a weekly basis, but only in the very early morning when the least number of people would see him.

On the Friday before Palm Sunday in 1783, Benedict came to St. Ignatius Church in Rome and was kneeling near the Lady Altar. His confessor, Fr. Marconi “observed a strange radiance about him. …The poor man talked to Father Marconi, and as he listened, he looked at the arms emerging from the sleeves, the arms of a skeleton, with just enough flesh to nourish the vermin that never left them alone. Benedict told his confessor that he was now free of all temptation. Father Marconi knew what that peace meant: it was the prelude to death” (Gorce 184). Benedict, at the age of 35, received absolution and holy Communion on that day. He was then seen on Palm Sunday in many churches, including Santa Croce where he venerated the relics of the Passion. On Holy Monday he was seen at San Ignacio and at the Church of the Holy Apostles. On Holy Tuesday, he was seen at St. Praxedes venerating the pillar at which Christ was scourged.

Holy Wednesday, April 16th, 1783. Benedict could hardly stand. But he took a staff and walked to the Church of the Madonna dei Monti. The people there had a profound respect for him, calling him Il Signor Benedetto. The Passion was read at Mass that day and the people believed that Benedict would expire at the same time as Christ. Benedict made it through the Mass. He received his last Holy Communion and he stumbled and fell on the steps leaving the church. He asked to be put on the ground. “He was still a Trappist in spirit, (and he) remembered that the Trappists always lay on straw and ashes to die” (192). The butcher rushed to care for him and took him to his house. He tried to feed him and care for his wounds. The priest rushed over and gave him Extreme Unction and prayed the prayers of the dying. At nightfall, the bells of Rome began to ring for the praying of the Salve Regina. And at the sound of the bells and the invocation of the Blessed Mother of God, Benedict expired.

On Holy Thursday morning the streets of Rome rang out with the voices of the children proclaiming that a saint was dead. His parents had not heard from him since 1770 and now his name was famous all over Europe as a saint. 130 miracles were attributed to him within a matter of months. That Easter brought many conversions among the people of Rome, especially among beggars who reformed their lives. May this Easter be a time of conversion for us as we consider this holy and humble life of a saint who wished to humble himself living as a monk without a monastery. He wished to please God by offering himself as a pleasing oblation. Let us each do the same in our own way, as God provides for us. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Regina Coeli: Fr. Andersen

From Fr. Eric Andersen’s Bulletin Letter for Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Sacred Heart-St. Louis Parish in Gervais, OR.

Regina Coeli

During most of the year, when we hear the Angelus bells ring here at the parish at 7 am, noon, and 6 pm, we should stop what whatever we are doing and recite the Angelus (“The angel of the Lord declared to Mary, etc.). But during Easter, when we hear the Angelus bells, we do not say the Angelus. Instead, we recite or sing the anthem called the “Regina Coeli” (Be Joyful Mary, Heavenly Queen). These last two Sundays, we have sung this anthem at both of the Sunday morning Masses. “There is a venerable tradition connected with this joyous anthem”. The Venerable Dom. Prosper Gueranger continues:

It is related that a fearful pestilence raged in Rome, during one of the Easters of the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great. In order to propitiate the anger of God, the holy Pope prescribed a public procession of both people and clergy, in which was to be carried the portrait of our blessed Lady painted by St. Luke. The procession was advancing in the direction of St. Peter’s; and as the holy picture, followed by the Pontiff, was carried along, the atmosphere became pure and free from pestilence. Having reached the bridge which joins the city with the Vatican, a choir of angels was heard singing above the picture, and saying: ‘Rejoice, O Queen of heaven, alleluia! for He whom thou didst deserve to bear, alleluia! hath risen, as He said, alleluia!’ As soon as the heavenly music ceased, the saintly Pontiff took courage, and added these words to those of the angels: ‘Pray to God for us, alleluia!’ Thus was composed the Paschal anthem to our Lady. Raising his eyes to heaven, Gregory saw the destroying angel standing on the top of the Mole of Hadrian (Hadrian’s tomb, built circa 130 AD), and sheathing his sword. In memory of this apparition the Mole was called the Castle of Sant’ Angelo, and on the dome was placed an immense statue representing an angel holding his sword in the scabbard.” (Gueranger. The Liturgical Year. Vol. 8, p. 98).
In honor of Our Lady during this Easter Season, we will continue singing this anthem at Mass (#449 in the St. Michael Hymnal). This is the prayer:

Regina Coeli, laetare, alleluia,
Rejoice, O Queen of heaven, alleluia,

Quia quem meruisti portare alleluia,
For He whom thou didst deserve to bear, alleluia.

Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia,
Hath risen, as He said, alleluia,

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Pray to God for us, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mary, alleluia.

R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
R. For the Lord hath truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, didst vouchsafe to make the world rejoice; grant, we beseech thee, that by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may receive the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Divine assistance remain with us always.  Amen. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Do You Love Me?" - Fr. Andersen Homily

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, Oregon

April 14, 2013 Dominica III Paschæ

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

There is a fascinating interchange between the Risen Lord and St. Peter in this account. Jesus asks one thing and Peter answers another. In English, we might not catch this nuance. In the English there is only one word for love. So Jesus asks Peter if he “loves” him and Peter answers that, yes, he “loves” him. In the English we miss the point. In the Greek or Latin, we might get the point because the two words for love are different. But why are they different and what does that mean? Does Peter’s answer just indicate a different degree of love, or is it a different kind of love altogether? This takes some explaining because there are different kinds of love. For instance, when a child says, “I love you mommy and daddy” it is different than when a parent says “I love you my child.” The child loves the parents because it is dependent on them and loves them because they loved the child first. The child loves the parents because they provide the child with everything it needs. They care for their precious child, and they love it. The child’s depends on their love for existence. So the child’s love is a dependent sort of love.

Let’s contrast that with parents who say “I love you” to their children. This is a different kind of love.

The parents have much more invested. The parents have cooperated with God in bringing these children into the world. God has entrusted the parents with the life and the soul of each child. The parents sacrifice their own needs and their own comfort, perhaps their own happiness, or even their very lives for the sake of these children and their needs. The parents are willing to lay down their lives for each child. This is a self-sacrificial kind of love which a parent has for a child. So the child has a dependent sort of love and the parent has a self-sacrificial kind of love.

In English, we simply use the word “love” for both kinds of love. In the classical languages, there are different words for these various kinds of love. The Greek and the Latin languages both articulate this difference. In the Holy Scriptures we encounter different words for different kinds of love. In today’s gospel, we encounter two types of love. Our Lord says to Peter: “do you love me?” The phrase in Latin is diligis meDiligis in the Latin means to love another with high esteem, to prize that person, to choose that person. So Our Lord says, “diligis me, do you love me Peter with high esteem? Do you prize me above all things? Do you choose me? Are you willing to lay down your life for me with a self-sacrificial love?” This is a godly love. It is the love that Jesus has for Peter and for us. By analogy, this is like the love of a parent for a child–a self-sacrificial love. Peter does not answer saying diligo te. Instead he answers with a different kind of love saying “amo te.” The love that Peter confesses is amore, and amore is inferior to diligereAmore is like the love of a child for a parent. It is a dependent kind of love, an obligatory kind of love, a love based upon one’s feelings, rather than a love based on choice. Peter seems to have evaded the question. But perhaps Peter recognizes that he is but a child, incapable of loving God back with the same love given to him.

Jesus asks a second time, saying, “Simon son of John, diligis me?” (i.e., do you prize me, do you choose me?). Simon Peter once again answers, “Lord, tu scis quia amo te, you know that I feel love for you.” Peter is unable to commit to giving Jesus his all.

Jesus has been calling Peter to the highest heights. Peter cannot respond to those heights. Finally, Our risen Lord lowers the bar and asks a third time, modifying the question: “Simon son of John, amas me?” (that is, do you care about me? Do you feel obliged to me?). We can understand why Peter is distressed at this third question. He feels shame. Our Lord is calling him to something greater and now he lowers himself to Peter, asking him merely if he is fond of him. Our Lord will accept what Peter is able to give, but He tells Peter that more will be demanded of him.

Jesus reveals to Peter just what will be demanded of him. Peter will be asked to lay down his life with a self-sacrificial love for our Lord. He will be led where he does not care to go. Our Lord reveals that although Peter is only able to care for him he will be asked to go where he does not will to go when he lays down his life for our Lord. By tradition, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome under the persecution of the Emperor Nero. In the end, Peter was given the grace to love Jesus according to the heights that Jesus wished to call him. He loved Jesus with a self-sacrificial love. He chose Jesus, not out of obligation, nor because of his feelings. He willed to choose Jesus because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. After Peter had received the Holy Spirit he knew this without a doubt. Therefore, there was no other choice but to give his life for Jesus.

We who have been given the Holy Spirit: what is holding us back? Jesus asks us to give Him everything. Are we able to give Him everything? In reality, we are not. He asks us if we love Him with a godly love and we respond that we care about him with a human love. We are as children who are incapable of understanding the love He asks for. So, He will take the love we are able to give to Him and work with it. But He asks us for more. He asks this for our own sake. He knows that we must rise up to that divine love if we ourselves are not to be lost. He knows that. He will continue to call us to that height of divine love.

Many Christians do not believe that they can aspire to that. I want to tell you that each of us can aspire to that. The devil will lie to you and tell you that you are helpless against your sins. That is a lie. The devil will lie to you and tell you that you cannot love God as He asks to be loved. That is a lie. The devil is sinning against the Holy Spirit – an unforgivable sin. He wants us to lose our faith.

We must realize that the Holy Spirit has been given to us by the Father and by the Son in order to help us rise up to that divine self-sacrificial love. The Holy Spirit is the love of God given to us at baptism, to dwell within us, to combat temptation and sin, and to dispel the lies of our enemy the devil. During Easter, we celebrate the triumph of life over death; the triumph of Jesus over the devil; the triumph of holiness and the beauty of purity over the ugliness of sin. The false promises of the devil do not deliver. Jesus calls us to rise up by the power of the Holy Spirit from the depths of this darkness into the heights of heavenly glory. He will not force it upon us. We must desire it. We must ask for it. We must detest our sins and renounce them. We must renounce the lies of the devil. We must put aside our sinful choices and lifestyles and conform ourselves to the ways of God, with the help of God, through living out the sacramental life. That is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life that Easter promises. Let us embrace that way, that truth, and that life and never settle for empty promises that deliver nothing but misery. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Installation Mass of Archbishop Sample - Photos

Here are some great photos of the installation Mass of Archbishop Alexander Sample on April 2, 2013, in Portland, Oregon. These photos are all by Marc Salvatore, who was hired as a second photographer by the Archdiocese of Portland for the event.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Traditional Latin Mass Thriving in Lansing, Michigan

A Latin Mass community has been growing in Lansing, Michigan, with the approval of Bishop Earl Boyea. More information about this interesting parish/community is available on their website “Get Holy”. (All photos in this post are copied from that website - see more here.)

Blessed John XXIII Community came into existence because the faithful were requesting the Traditional Latin Mass, says Fr. Jeffery Robideau, who serves as the chaplain of the group.  Bishop Boyea asked priests to add the TLM in their parishes, but for whatever reasons, this didn’t come to fruition. The bishop, aware that Fr. Robideau had a preference for the TLM, asked him to start a new community to meet the needs of the faithful who desired the older form of the Mass. Fr. Robideau’s appointment took effect on Sept. 1, 2010 according to one news story

Prior to that appointment, though, Fr. Robideau seems to have been put through the wringer in his previous parish. Fr. Z had a post about this back in December 2009; he cited a news article about the situation which reported:

Some 150 members of Our Lady of Fatima had asked Bishop Earl Boyea to remove the Rev. Jeffrey Robideau. Last week, the parish and diocese sent letters to parishioners saying that Robideau will stay.

Included in parishioners' concerns were Robideau's decision to disband the church's choir and his apparent refusal to train girls to perform altar services or hold church committee meetings.

"It is clear that the pastor has the prerogative to make the decisions in these matters," [Bishop Earl] Boyea stated in his Dec. 17 letter. "You are no doubt aware that in our diocese, as in any diocese, priests will vary, within the guidelines established by universal or diocese law, in their choices in these matters."

It seems that Fr. Robideau had a clear idea about how to restore some true Catholic identity to his parish, and he had the support of his bishop in doing so. Kudos to Bishop Boyea! And kudos to Fr. Robideau for standing up for his liturgical and pastoral rights in the first place!

So now, Fr. Robideau is the chaplain for Blessed John XXIII Community in Lansing, Michigan. The extraordinary form of the Mass is celebrated in the crypt of the Cathedral every Sunday, with anywhere from 50-80 people in attendance. This is generally a low Mass, with a missa cantata (sung Mass) on the first Sunday of the month. Fr. Robideau says that the group does have a schola, and plans are in the works to have a sung Mass on two Sundays per month. Easter Sunday marked the group’s first solemn high Mass. (There are also two weekday Masses, one in the evening and one in the morning.)

Bishop Boyea himself has celebrated the EF Mass for this group. .

Take some time to check out Fr. Robideau’s website, “Get Holy”. There are two main pages; one describes “Saintly Acres”, which is a 20-acre farm where Fr. Robideau lives and also conducts short retreats for his parishioners.  The “About Us” section says:

The name Get Holy represents the heart of our spiritual life. We are to “Get Holy.” That is to say, we are to know, love and serve God. We are to transform our lives into the image of the Body of Christ. We are to conquer our personal interior disordered passions and desires known as concupiscence.

Those who want to Get Holy must use a different approach than the one most of the world uses, including most clerics. We are not to take the road of least resistance. Rather, we ask what is the will of God and then we are to take that road whether it be easy or difficult. This is done with the understanding that people will rise to the level of excellence demanded of  them. We are not called to water down the Faith, but to present it in all its fullness for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

At Saintly Acres, we are dedicated to the tried and true methods of growing in holiness as lived by the many great saints in our rich history.

We look for and demand nothing less than the fulfillment of Jesus’ command “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We are here for you.

Fr. Robideau seems to be a no-holds-barred kind of priest when it comes to preaching. In the “News and Articles” section, he posts sermons; the ones I looked through seemed to have solid, honest, no-nonsense Church teaching. When I commented on this in an email to Fr. Robideau, he responded, “Jesus never held back so I figure why should I, as long as I speak truth of faith and not from opinion.”

The other main page of the website is devoted to Blessed John XIII Community. I like the section that says:

Are you nervous about going to your first Extraordinary Form Mass?

Don't be. We have a Pew Buddy for you.

We are more than happy to help you. We have people willing to sit with you and help you follow along in our Latin/English books so you know exactly what is going on.

We all remember our first time. It is an exciting time so forget being nervous and come and be spiritually enrichened through this ancient rite of the Catholic Mass.

I haven’t been to Lansing to experience all of this first hand, but I find it very encouraging toknow that there are groups of the faithful who want this to happen, that there are priests like Fr. Robideau willing to serve the faithful in this way, and that there are bishops like Bishop Boyea who actually seem to support it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some Comments on "Priesthood in Crisis"

Having seen references to Fr. Matthew Despard in the news recently, I was prompted to read his controversial book, Priesthood in Crisis. Fr. Despard writes of his own personal experience and knowledge of the gay subculture within the Church in Scotland, and he is not afraid to name names, dates, places, and events. He notes in the preface that

Fr. Matthew Despard
This is a book that I do not want to write…I write it “more in sorrow than in anger”. I write it, to a degree, out of the pain of my own victim hood. But more than anything, I write it because it must be written.

Good-by, Good Men (by Michael S. Rose) documented and discussed the homosexual crisis in seminaries in the United States; Fr. Despard does the same regarding not only the seminaries in Scotland, but the Church hierarchy as well. Fr. Despard speaks almost exclusively from his own experience, citing instance after instance where he was pressured by homosexual priests to engage in inappropriate behavior, and was ostracized when he refused to comply.  Worse than “ostracized”, he was persecuted.

And his troubles aren’t going to cease with the recent attention given his book. It was published in 2010, but recently became available on Kindle (see this story for some background on the Scottish Church’s troubles, and some quotes from the book). Another  story states that friends of Fr. Despard say he “fears he could be stripped of his priesthood”. The story notes that diocesan officials deny that this is even being considered.

Near the end of the book, Fr. Despard makes some good general points about the loss of faith in both the laity and the clergy. He starts with the question, “Why are Catholics turning their backs on traditional doctrine and morality?” Indeed! And we can include Catholics at all levels of the hierarchy in that question! Fr. Despard examines the question further (all emphases mine):

 [W]hy do some Catholics reject the Church’s teachings? What has influenced their choice? Was it the media? Was it the pagan liberalism that is sweeping through the western world? Was it simple selfishness and self-involvement? Whatever the reason, it stems from a weakness of faith, a lack of understanding of the obligations of the faith, and a general loss of any sense of the faith.

And my honest belief as to why this is so is because many priests have lost a sense of their vocation, have lost that burning desire to follow the instructions from Jesus to heal the sick, to cast out demons and to preach the Word.

From my perspective, this is the crux of the situation: many priests have lost a sense of their vocation. I saw this first when I began to experience the extraordinary form of the Mass. In my view, the EF Mass lets the priest be a priest. Turning him to face the people is the first step in taking away the sense of his sacred duty and privilege before God in the Mass, I think. And it’s all downhill from there. Abuses of the Novus Ordo Mass resulted in the liturgy being damaged, and that damaged the priesthood.

Fr. Despard continues:

…It is easy, too, to assume that we [priests] are following our vocations honestly and fully but how determinedly do we catechize our people? How often, and with what deliberate purpose, do we ask them what it means to be Catholic?

….Sadly, when spirituality begins to wane, cynicism begins to prosper. And if they lack spirituality, priests cannot deliver the gospel to their flocks. In their lack of spirituality, they fall victim to their base desires and to the siren call of the world.

Fr. Despard believes “there is currently a major apostasy rife in the Church, an apostasy that conceals itself under the various guises of tolerance, pro-choice, equality and other forms of social and political correctness”. He comments further:

How terrible it is for the priests of our Church to stand by and permit the uninhibited growth of those twin modern perversions – liberalism and relativism – to flourish unchecked. How ignorant of our Christian faith and its tenets are our flocks allowed to become?

And then he asks this very pertinent question:

So why cannot our Church leaders see this? Why are they not mobilizing a Church fight-back, a re-education of its members, a challenge to the increasingly atheistic agenda that permeates our lives…?

I know there are some good priests and good bishops courageously teaching the Truth, but sometimes it seems that they constitute a very small minority. Countering our good shepherds, there are Church leaders who seem to not see the problem because they are part of it. When those Church leaders are in a position to choose which young men to admit to seminary, and which seminarians to ordain to the priesthood, and which priests to make bishops…well, there’s a problem – at least for us humans.

But with God, of course, all things are possible.

Pray. Fast.