On Leaving Mass Early

This is what people see as they go to leave Mass early out the main door of one of my parishes:

(It was installed by a previous pastor, I think.)

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Street Evangelization

A little “street evangelization” that I saw today in downtown Birmingham.

Jesus will change us, but he always leaves us free as regards spelling…

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St. Camillus de Lellis

Today, on the Church’s universal calendar, is the Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis. In the United States, it is transferred to Friday this year, as we celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha today.

Here is a photo that I took of his “tomb” (the effigy contains his mortal remains) in Rome:

His tomb is located in the beautiful church of St. Mary Magdalene, a church you would like to visit (see here for more).

Read about St. Camillus’ very intersting life on EWTN’s site: how he had been a lazy and unattractive child, who had a bad temper, and lived in a difficult family situation, but in any case, grew up to become a saint.

St. Camillus de Lellis, pray for us.

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Help the Sisters in Marbury

You’ll remember the Dominican Sisters of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama from my recent posts about their vocations retreat and the prayer they posted to consecrate a child to Our Lady. This is a good, small group of nuns who are worthy of our support. Here is a photo of them speaking to the girls who attended the recent vocations retreat:



Today I received a bit of mail from the nuns with their beautiful newsletter and a personal note. On the note they made a rare request for support. Here is what Sister wrote:

At this time we ask our friends for help with our special needs. Our main concern at present is keeping the air conditioning system going. The service men have had to make frequent calls! As with any household, there have been other “breakdowns”. We thank you for “coming to the rescue”.

Can we send some help their way? I note that on their “Ways to Help” page they accept donations via PayPal. They also provide an address where you could mail a check. I will be sending in my own donation.

For most of us, when we have an air conditioning breakdown we can escape to an air conditioned car and go to an air conditioned public place such as a mall or the grocery store or something. These sisters are cloistered and so they can’t just hop in the van and take refuge elsewhere. You can see in the photo above how faithful they are in respecting the cloister: even when a group of girls comes to learn about their life, the nuns are on one side, the girls on the other. Let’s see if we can help them a bit. 

Here is the link to their “Ways to Help” page. No amount is too small. If you can’t donate to them or have other reasons for not doing so, please be sure to say a prayer for them. Thanks!

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Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum

Me, reciting the Vesting Prayers as I prepare to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Me, reciting the Vesting Prayers as I prepare to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Today is the seventh anniversary of the legal document written by Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, which made it clear that the old Latin Mass was never abrogated, and that the faithful (and priests, who are also part of the faithful) still have the right to it.

As Benedict wrote in the letter that accompanied that document:

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.

Thus the Holy Father invited us to reconcile with our history – not reject it – realizing that the older form of the Mass was a source of culture, a source of good, and a source of holiness, not something which we must now look down upon, spurn, or pretend never existed.

Liturgy is traditionally a hot-button issue in Church circles and of course there were many who did not appreciate Pope Benedict’s actions in that regard – as if one could pick and choose which aspects of the Papal magisterium one finds acceptable and follow only those.

While the “old Latin Mass” (which is no longer to be considered old, since it is part of the life of the contemporary Church also) may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is something that is perfectly acceptable and makes up part of the great diversity that is found within the unity of the Church.

I have learned how to celebrate the “Extraordinary Form” of the liturgy (at least in some of its variety: I have a lot to learn still) and am sure that I will do so from time to time as the opportunities present themselves. Learning that form of celebration has certainly enriched my own spirituality and understanding of the priesthood.

Let’s put it this way: in the Church there are a lot of forms of spirituality, and a diocesan priest has to show himself open to all forms that are legitimate, even if he doesn’t personally share all of them. What right does a diocesan priest have, then, to spurn the Latin Mass? It’s simply not coherent.

In the Diocese of Birmingham today we have a personal parish (in Huntsville) for those who prefer this form, a monastery (near Cullman) where it is regularly offered, and also a parish (in Birmingham) where it is celebrated on Sundays. So we give thanks for Pope Benedict’s act of reconciliation and generosity, which has enriched the lives of many, even here close to home.

Let’s remember to say a special prayer for Benedict XVI on this day, since he faced a great deal of opposition in writing and promulgating the above document, but courageously stood firm and did what he knew to be God’s will for the Church. May God reward him and give him peace and consolation.

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Where Your Prayer Intentions Go

My rectory thankfully has a chapel in it (with the Bishop’s approval), set up by the former pastor. It is very simple but works great. With time I hope to improve it in various ways.

This is where I will be praying for your Prayer Intentions which you submit. Just in the past couple of days I have received a few.

As time goes on I hope to put a sort of “inbox” in the chapel where I will place the intentions after I have read and prayed over them. Thus they will remain there on paper before the Lord for some time, even after I have said my humble prayers.

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Saint Maria Goretti

July 6th is the Feast of St. Maria Goretti; although it is displaced by Sunday this year, we can (and should) still celebrate it privately.

Most people have heard about St. Maria Goretti because of her remarkable story and because of the fact that she is a relatively recent saint – she died in 1902 and was canonized in 1950. Her own mother attended her beatification and her killer attended her canonization. Read more here.

The tomb of St. Maria Goretti in Nettuno, Italy, photographed by me on November 29, 2012. The effigy inside the tomb contains her relics.

The tomb of St. Maria Goretti in Nettuno, Italy, photographed by me on November 29, 2012. The effigy inside the tomb contains her relics.

St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape.

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

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Getting Settled

It’s just shy of a week since I left Rome, and I’m still very much in “transition mode”, getting settled at my new assignment, unpacking, meeting people, etc.

St. Barnabas Parish Welcomes You

St. Barnabas Parish Welcomes You

Even if I didn’t have the use of my laptop until today (because I forgot my power cable in Rome, and had to order a new one, which just arrived), I have had a lot on my mind, and so blogging ideas have not really been coming to the surface. Hopefully I can resume a more regular blogging schedule in the next week or so!

The window for our parish patron.

The window for our parish patron.

St. Barnabas, pray for us.

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A Church, A Dessert, A View

I am enjoying a brief visit to Germany* before returning home. Today we drove through part of the Rhineland, very scenic.

Here is an altarpiece in a church we stopped to see called the Rheingau Cathedral (although apparently it is not really a cathedral), located in the town of Geisenheim. This altarpiece was carved in the year 1480 and depicts the Epiphany, as the Magi present gifts to the Christ child:

Here we have my dessert at lunch, which featured a fruit I had never seen before. My sources tell me that it is called a “cape gooseberry” or a “ground cherry”. Apparently it is often used as a garnish on desserts:

Finally, here is a view from the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen, looking down the hillside which is covered with vineyards. It was a gray and hazy day but the views were still gorgeous:

In my rush to get out of Rome I managed to forget my computer’s power cable, so we’ll see how many more blog posts I can do before getting home and getting a new cable.

*I had never visited Germany to this point. I definitely hope to come back and see more of it. I have also never been to Spain, so that is on my list. Then, I hope to see more of France (I’ve only seen Paris and Lourdes) and Austria (I’ve only seen Vienna and some small towns in that part of the country). Three years in Europe but still much left to see!

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Mass for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

This morning I had Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. My classmate and now-fellow “JCL“, Jenna Marie Cooper, attended and listened attentively to my brilliant homily (ha). Jenna is a consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese of New York, and she has a blog that you should check out, particularly if you or a young woman you know might be interested in a vocation to consecrated virginity in the Church.

The Basilica was quite busy this morning; once I had vested for Mass we exited the sacristy with chalice and cruets and did a lap around the Basilica, walking past all the altars – all occupied – before stopping at this one and waiting our turn. It is dedicated to Mary “Mater Ecclesiae” (Mother of the Church). Pope John Paul II had the little image that you see above the altar copied in mosaic format and installed overlooking St. Peter’s Square after he survived the attempt on his life in 1981, as I previously mentioned here.

This altar is located in the back-left corner of St. Peter’s Basilica – an area which is almost always closed, apart from the time when priests may offer Mass each morning. So, it’s effectively another “hidden altar” to add to the previous one I posted about.

In that back left corner of the Basilica, just to the right of the altar pictured above, there is another interesting altar that depicts the confrontation of Pope Saint Leo the Great with Attila the Hun. Pope Leo famously went out to confront Attila, preventing him from sacking Rome, in the 5th century. What makes this altar so interesting is not only the subject matter, but also the fact that unlike all the other altars in the Basilica, which have very fine mosaics above them (so fine that they look like paintings), this image is depicted in high relief carving:

After Mass it was important that we have a festal breakfast. This is about as festal as it gets in Rome, where breakfast (for an Italian) consists of a shot of strong coffee and some form of carbs, just enough to make you hungry for a real breakfast. I, however, do not drink coffee:

That there is a Roman doughnut, called a “ciambella”. It’s not Dunkin’ Donuts but it did the trick anyhow!

Now I am finishing my packing and getting ready to head out first thing in the morning. While I will be leaving Rome, I still have a fair amount of material to share, so there will be additional Rome posts as time goes on. For now, back to packing!

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Rome’s Monumental Cemetery

A couple of days ago I made a visit to Rome’s monumental Verano Cemetery with a friend. Thought you might be interested to see how it looks, since most of our cemeteries back home don’t have quite the same sort of character. Click the photos below to enlarge.

Let’s say a prayer for all the faithful departed:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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Something to Remember the Casa

For the past three years I’ve lived in Casa Santa Maria, the house for American priests studying in Rome. The building is older than the United States of America, having been a convent for a couple of centuries before it became first the American seminary and then the residence for priests doing post-graduate studies.

In our beautiful chapel here (various photos here, here, and here), there is the special image of Our Lady of Humility in an illuminated shrine in the high altar. It is beloved by us all and I know that I will miss praying there before it. But fortunately I was able to get a print of it to bring back home. And since custom framing here is generally cheaper than at home, and they have a better selection of high-quality baroque-type frames (“if it’s not baroque, then fix it!”), I figured I should do that also before I left. I’m very pleased with how it came out:

I’ve used this framer on several occasions and have always been pleased with the results. But this time I was particularly impressed with a detail they included. Normally on the back of the frames they put a standard brown framing paper. But look what they used for this image:

If you look closely it’s the fleur-de-lis, which is a tradition marian symbol. Very nice touch.

I’m looking forward to finding the right place to hang this important image in the rectory or office at St. Barnabas. And here’s hoping that it makes it across the Atlantic without any damage! With that said, back to packing…

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