I am blessed in my parish to have a group of men and boys that meets weekly during the school year — well over 100 of them — and a couple of times each summer. That group is Fraternus, and there are more and more chapters being founded around the country. If there is not a Fraternus chapter near you, I strongly recommend it and encourage you to consider if you might be called to help start one (it doesn’t all have to be on you — no man is an island — round up some other good Catholic guys and make it a group effort).
One of the many good initiatives that Fraternus promotes, in an effort to help us be virtuous men who live in reality and are prepared to rise to reality’s demands, is to encourage us to detach from modern technology and media. I am of course typing this on one such device and into such a medium; you are likewise obviously using such to read it. But these things threaten to take over our lives. They end up highly influencing the way we think. Amy Welborn published a very fine article today about the histrionic type of media reporting that marks our ecclesial scene today and threatens to distort our view of the Church. We need to be able to detach and to perceive reality more clearly.
One way that several men who are involved with Fraternus has sought to do so is by publishing a quarterly magazine — only in print, though I will provide a teaser below. It is called Sword & Spade. We need to rediscover the printed word and be able to work our way through longer articles on weightier topics (rather than the latest hysteria), thoughtfully considering what they propose and allowing them to influence us as may be appropriate. Thus, there is no digital version of this new publication. Moreover, only a donation (albeit recurring) is asked in order to subscribe to it — you choose the amount. It goes to a very fine cause. I encourage all men to subscribe. I encourage those who have any skill in writing to submit articles. Ladies, see if this would be a good use of your charitable giving funds and a good gift for your guys. Here is a teaser — from an article I wrote for it:
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Living a Liturgical Life as a Family – Where to Start
Very Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L.
Pastor & Rector, Cathedral of Saint Paul, Birmingham, Alabama
“We don’t do this anymore!”, the priest said from the pulpit, while tearing a rosary apart in front of everyone.
That scene – a true story – was recounted to me by another priest, reminiscing about the sorts of things that happened here and there around the time of the liturgical changes of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He had witnessed the dramatic denunciation with his own eyes… as well as the stunned wonderment of the congregation.
The denouncing priest was reacting against the prayer of the rosary during Holy Mass – a practice that had been quite common till that time. It was one of the most cherished ways that the lay faithful united themselves spiritually to the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice, made present on the altar. In any case, that priest’s attitude was also emblematic of the general rejection of traditional devotions that corresponded to the same period of history.
Whereas it had been common for there to be rosary groups, nightly novenas, prayer of lauds or vespers (morning or evening prayer), adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, processions, the lighting of votive candles, and other devotions in most parishes, now so much of that would virtually disappear. Thankfully, in recent years, many of these things are making a comeback in our churches.
Devotional life all but disappeared within many Catholic families, also. Many had the habit of attending the aforementioned parish devotions and liturgies, but not only – they also lived some form of “liturgical life” in the home. There was the family rosary and other shared prayer. There was weekly confession (with the father taking everyone there). There were seasonal devotions. They invited the priest over for dinner. They hoped and prayed that one of their own might be called to be a priest or nun. They helped the poor. They supported the missions.
But, “We don’t do this anymore!” I daresay, most of us grew up without some or all of these things. And we are not better off for it. In this article, I intend to offer three concrete suggestions on how we might begin to recover for ourselves and our families a truly liturgical life: a way of living that not only imbues our homes and our hearts with authentic spirituality, but also unites us to the rhythms of the Church’s year – indeed, to the rhythms of the heart of Christ.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” — Joshua 24:15
When a new church is constructed, a bishop ordinarily must consecrate it before Holy Mass may be celebrated there. Doing so transforms it from a mere man-made structure of four walls (however impressive in itself) to a true house of God, a sacred place exclusively committed to the divine service. In fact, if – God forbid – something gravely contrary to that purpose were ever to take place in a consecrated church, a bishop would have to re-consecrate it before worship could resume there.
The Church teaches us that the family home is called to be a domestic church – a place where the Lord is known, loved, and served – indeed, where he is worshipped. Sure, many other things happen in our homes besides; they are not exclusively committed to sacred activities, as a proper church is. Consecration by a bishop is not what is needed. But our homes may be blessed. The Church has a blessing expressly for that purpose.
Have you ever had your priest over to bless your home? A priest’s blessing is a sacramental of the Church: it is a pledge of divine favors and graces. Traditionally, a pastor would pass through all the homes of his parish during the Easter season, blessing them, ensuring that all children had been baptized, and having an opportunity to get to know his parishioners better. Alas, “we don’t do this anymore”, either – in most places, at least. But you may still invite your priest over and request this blessing from him. Most priests are edified to receive such invitations and welcome the opportunity.
Besides setting apart your home as a place specially dedicated to the good God, a blessing will help purify it from any evil influences that may have also made their home there. Such evil may enter in various ways, but the greatest of these today is through the use of pornography. There is no question that porn comes straight from hell. Using it is asking the devil to entertain you; more than that, it is inviting him into your home. If you or any other family member has ever used pornography, your home is a prime candidate for a blessing. There is also the possibility – if you are not the first occupant of the house or apartment you live in – that some previous resident may have opened a door to evil as well in some way or another. […]
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