Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

27 June 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Some Assembly Required

How was Moses able to remind the Israelites (of yesteryear, of future generations the world over, and us "brothers by another Mother," Mater Ecclesia) of the mighty acts of God, including wilderness trials, the provision of manna, water, physical healing, and everything else they needed, when they needed it?

How was Jesus able to tell the Jews gathered about Him, and future generations the world over, of the necessity of eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood for authentic temporal and eternal living?

How was St. Paul able to tell the factious Corinthians, and future generations the world over, that their participation in the Sacred Morsel profoundly joined them to the Host-Guest of Honor and thus to every other fellow partaker and even to those who for whatever reason are absent?

One answer starts the music and wins both Showcase Showdowns (Sacrifice and Banquet), namely this week's title.  Call it the understatement of the ages!  What an adjective!  What a participle!  What a noun!  But how would one know unless one would show?!

18 June 2011

Generation X on Spiritual Generation

Kathryn Lopez: Different sort of Father's Day is a delightful piece from a young columnist (just a few months older than the current blogger) who expresses her gratitude for the spiritual fatherhood of priests. I have linked the reader to this column not because I desire or deserve any recognition, but because the priesthood as such does, for reasons Ms. Lopez cites and more.

I am encouraged to know that the Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum was ordained during "my time" in the seminary, as were several of the priests currently on the faculty at my Alma Mater, St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia, where I was privileged to be formed for the priesthood (1994-2003). By no merit of our own, we are among the fruits of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI's vision for the Church, eager for the New Evangelization. "The time to reap has come, and the earth's harvest is fully ripe" (Rev 14:15).

17 June 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: [sic]

"Sic" (Latin for "thus" or "so") appears in brackets to indicate that a quoted word or phrase has been reprinted precisely according to the original source, and was not miscopied.  The famous John 3:16 reads, in Latin, "Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnis, qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habet vitam aeternam."  We could just as well move the "sic" from the beginning to any of several points to emphasize the reality of what was said, as in: "Yes, God loved the world"; "You heard that right--God gave His only-begotten Son"; "No mistake--whoever believes in Him will not perish"; "Yes--eternal life."

15 June 2011

Musical Chairs

I had the most delightful evening playing a concert with the Cressona Band (, a Schuylkill County outfit for which I've been honored to play (off and on--in recent years, mostly off) since the summer of 1991. 

We played under the baton of John P., a band director who just retired after directing bands for over 35 years in Schuylkill County high schools, whose daughter Mikki is now directing in Berks County.  Next to me was Craig S., a band director who judged one of my county band auditions almost 20 years ago; our section also featured his sons, neither of whom was alive when I started with the band.  For perhaps the fourth time in 40 years my mother got to meet Mark C., a boy she grew up with in Hometown, who picked up his alto saxophone a few years ago and has since recruited his children for the band.

Thoughts and conversations took me back to Joe B., Joe P., Frank M., Bruce H., and Mike B., fellow trumpet players all.  Bruce, the only surviving one among them, may bristle to know that I have a couple of his clothespins (for keeping the music steady on windy days like today); on one he wrote his name.  I liken it to a towel stolen from the Waldorf-Astoria.  When I first joined the band, Joe B. let me sit up with him and take a solo here and there.  He was still playing into his 90s for his church--not only the cornet, but also the musical saw.  Something worth hearing, I must say.  I also miss a number of clarinet players: one is Howard C., our first-chair clarinet who famously tuned us all up--even the snare drummers--with the old-reliable concert B flat.  He's living near his daughter in Texas now.  I'm not sure that he can play anymore.  Another is Tom W., a man who often gave me rides to practice before I could drive.  Over the years I would see him with his cronies "up the mall" at the Chick-fil-A.  Our last encounter was on a Memorial Day, after a parade, when I visited him and his wife in a nursing home, unless you count his wake last year.

A chair was left empty in the baritone horn section for Bill M., who was buried earlier today.  He was a mainstay in the band, having been a high school band director at one point.  Mind you, that job is not a prerequisite for being in the Cressona Band; but we can boast a good number of band directors, as they like to preserve their chops and introduce the next generation to good music.  We played a somewhat obscure Sousa march for Bill ("The Golden Jubilee"), which his son (in attendance with wife and daughter) very much appreciated.

I have to give it to the Borough of St. Clair, who co-sponsored the concert and saw us through the windy evening.  Retired veterans (always reverenced in our town) had the nation's colors on display until dusk.  Along with equally-reverenced first responders (police, fire, EMS), they received our thanks for their service.  St. Clair has been generous to host the band again in recent years, although I recalled a concert sometime in the mid-1990s when some hoodlums pelted the band with eggs, ruining Howard's clarinet and the rest of the concert besides.  Tonight, no harm, no fowl.

I'll have another chance or two to play this season.  Maybe by summer's end my stamina will have improved some.  If anything, I certainly will have exercised my memory by recalling the dozens of fine musicians who over the past 20 years have occupied those chairs to good effect.

11 June 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: The "Peace Pipe" of the Spirit

Draw in the Spirit's intoxicating fragrance, and exhale that fragrance into a toxic atmosphere for its purification.  Pass it not to a friend, but to an enemy, that he or she may inhale, savor, and infuse yet another room with new life.  The Holy Spirit is not a "controlled substance" (cf. John 3:34), except if we attempt to hold our breath by being unwilling to forgive, unwilling to change.  When we ration a gift so freely given us, it's not just our loss; the world is inhibited from the full potential that God desires for it.

07 June 2011

This Too Shall Pass

Such was the title of a daily reflection for tomorrow's Scripture readings.  Both the first reading and the Gospel are concerned with the departure of an influential and inspiring person--Paul and Jesus, respectively.  Of course, Jesus is far more than an influential and inspiring person, but these qualities certainly describe the Lord of History.  The axiom "This too shall pass" refers not only to difficult periods in our lives, but to good ones as well.

Between yesterday and tomorrow (6 to 8 June) we shall have marked the graduation of the last classes from Holy Name High School and Central Catholic High School, and henceforth Berks County will have one Catholic high school.  These are sad times, no doubt, for everyone who has contributed in any way to these institutions--as alumnus/a, parent, teacher, staff, administrator, etc.  Many people may not have considered the possibility that either of these institutions would have an end as well as a beginning.  Likewise for many of the parishes in our diocese--my own parish of origin included.

It is helpful for us to keep this axiom in our minds as we experience anything, whether favorable or unfavorable.  It puts things in perspective.

06 June 2011

Ad Multos Annos!

This web-logger joins with the entire Diocese of Allentown in praising the Triune God for Father Jason F. Stokes, newly-ordained priest in the line of Melchisedek (Ps. 110:4), shepherd after the heart of the LORD (Jer 3:15), and co-worker in the ministry of the Apostles.

The homilist for Fr. Stokes' Mass of Thanksgiving remarked that a newly-ordained priest is a sign from God that He wants the Church to go on; this is much like the saying that "a baby is a sign that God wants the world to go on."  Both verities convey God's pleasure with His people, His interest in our augmentation both in quantity and in quality. 

The homilist further noted that, like a certain current Ordinary of our diocese, Fr. Stokes is the son of parents who converted to Catholicism.  Mr. and Mrs. Stokes have raised three children for the Church, counting Jason's twin brother and his sister.

The homilist further noted that Jason's parish family fostered his priestly vocation alongside the domestic Church of his household.

The homilist further noted that Fr. Stokes profited from a sound Catholic secondary education and a vibrant involvement in the campus ministry of his college.

One may safely conclude that there are many auxiliary "vocation directors" whose efforts set the foundation without which a diocese may never learn who is interested in (and by God's grace capable of) the gift and mystery of priesthood.  It takes a Church to raise a priest or vowed religious.

To a "numbers person" one priest does not sound like a bumper crop, but our Holy Father Benedict XVI has reinforced the truth that numbers don't say everything.  However, given the manifest need for proclaimers of the Gospel, celebrants of the sacraments, and caregivers of Christian charity, numbers are by no means to be discounted.

Planting in the soil of orthodox teaching, profound liturgy, and honest compassion, in time we will shake the trees to yield a richer harvest.  This stands as a challenge for Holy Guardian Angels and for all our sacred institutions.

05 June 2011

This Week in Christian Liturgy: All in a Day's Work

Every day provides countless opportunities to glorify God as Jesus did, "simply" by "accomplishing the work that you gave me to do" (Jn 17:4).  By "you" Jesus means, of course, the Father; by "the work" He means not only the wonderful works of salvation--proclaiming the Gospel, healing, forgiving sins, and the like--but also...getting out of bed in the morning?  Yes: getting out of bed in the morning is no small accomplishment!  Pray each day with preemptive gratitude for the people and situations that God will send you today for His glory and the salvation of all concerned parties.

01 June 2011

I Resemble That Remark!

It's All Your Fault is a delightful essay from a man who has "told me everything I have done." While this British author is not the Messiah, he treats well of the Mess.