Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

May God bless you with Peace this Christmas. May you rejoice on this Holy Night, for Christ our Savior is Born. Enjoy this rendition of O Holy Night performed in Croatian:

Every Now and Then

A Well Written Article Comes Along

After the contraception mandate was imposed one of the things I have been saying is that bishops and theologians need to clearly express the teaching on Contraception. Because so many people today, many Catholics included, do not understand the teaching, it is roundly rejected or ridiculed. However, the basis for the teaching is beautiful. Every Catholic should read Humanae Vitae and learn as much as they can from the writings of Pope John Paul II, especially his book Love and Responsibility and his presentations on the Theology of the Body. In line with this need for more authoritative teaching, this morning I came across an excellent article written by Archbishop Coakley. This article is exactly what we need to hear from the teaching authority.

Well Said

It Is Good To Speak Up!

The conservative political commentator, Mike Huckabee, clarified comments he made in response to last Friday’s tragedy, comments that were distorted by the mainstream media. What he said is something that needs to be said at this point in history. Note: he is not talking about the shootings per se but rather offering a commentary on contemporary society.

Sadly, in looking at alternate sites where this video has been posted, the comments being made show no signs whatsoever for the possibility of a civil dialogue, which only further proves how far modern culture has deteriorated. Rather than make a well informed comment, the same latent anger that wants to rid society of any display of God forms the content against what Mr. Huckabee is saying. Go ahead and attack the individual who speaks or those who agree with him but that still does not respond to the issues he raises. What still eludes me to this day is the level of vehemence spewed against those who publicly display their Faith or even speak in public about God?

Hopefully commentaries like this will multiply and a true dialogue will ensue.

Excuse Me Mr. President?

Are You Listening to Yourself?

The tragedy that occurred on Friday is without question the worst in American history. The senseless killing of innocent children is horrific and it is impossible for any human being to remain unmoved by it. Yes, this tragedy should make every American citizen, and every person around the world, stop for just a moment and ask how something like this could happen. There is no psychological profile of a killer that can explain this madness. There is no circumstance that one could list that will put this act in context. The actions of this individual are pure evil and nothing can justify them or even make sense of them. It is truly senseless. Because Man is tainted by original sin, we must always be working as families and communities to form consciences according to the Will of God. And most especially, we must go out of our way to ensure we are working toward a culture of Life.

I have to admit, however, that President Obama has succeeded in demonstrating to me that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. First, he sheds tears in front of cameras and waxes philosophical on the lives shortened by a maniac. I am sure he is bothered by this tragedy like any human being would be. No one can question the sincerity of his emotions or that this tragedy has deeply effected him. Then he stands in front of those directly devastated by this tragedy and says that protecting our children is “our first job… If we don’t get that right, then we won’t get anything right. That is how we will be judged… Can we honestly say we are doing enough to keep our children safe from harm?” So from which side of your mouth are these words coming?

These words have a great truth to them and yet the messenger makes them suspect. Lest we forget, this president has been responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent American children and countless more worldwide through his national and international policies on abortion. Yes, his radical pro-abortion policies and financial support of the abortion industry has repeatedly ended the lives of innocent children. So I agree Mr. President, if we don’t get this right and put an end to the culture of death, then we won’t get anything right. This is not about gun laws or putting new locks on school buildings. It is about having a consistent ethic of Life. On this, we will be judged! Yes, there is a subversive “conspiracy against life” and the president and his closest advisors are all conspirators. So, Mr. President, before you even dare to suggest we need legislation to protect our most innocent citizens from madmen, which would be a good thing, you should work on legislation that protects the most vulnerable children from yourself. As long as you continue to feed the culture of death and remain a conspirator against life, it is hard to accept your sincerity.

Ironically, on Friday the president said of these children, “They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own…” These are beautiful words and are the exact same words I said about the lives of babies in the womb on the day Mr. Obama was elected.

May God shed His Love on those poor families who lost a child last Friday and may He sustain them by the grace of the Holy Spirit now and for many years to come.

Four Years

And Counting...

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was in Rome… It was four years ago today I successfully defended my thesis and earned a doctorate in Moral Theology. I must admit it was a real challenge and took a great push to finish that year. My thanks to the Redemptorist Fathers, Sean Cannon and Stephen Rehrauer at the Academia Alfonsiana in Rome, who not only challenged me academically but helped me grow in so many ways. I also thank God for giving me the wisdom and ability to complete such an awesome task.

Now that four years have past, I am still humbled by the accomplishment and puzzled as to why the bishop asked me.

An Ongoing Question

When is being late too late?

More than once in recent days, I have had a conversation regarding people coming late to Mass and still receiving Holy Communion. As it stands today, the discussion centers on whether there is a point when someone arrives for Mass that is too late to receive Holy Communion. Most priests and regular churchgoers agree there is something wrong with the practice but are hard pressed to substantiate why it is wrong. The reasons given typically center on the scandal or distraction it causes others. There is no talk at all about the objective order, the fonts of morality, or what the act is in itself. Almost no one uses words such as sacrilege to describe the practice, which is where the breakdown occurs. For the most part, there is no talk of grave matter or sin. The only question asked is whether the person should receive Holy Communion after coming in late because others are scandalized by his or her lack of preparation.

In trying to move beyond the subjective arguments, many attempt a legalistic approach by looking to canon law, which is silent on the matter. Others look to liturgical law, which is also silent on the matter. In fact, in searching for an authoritative statement, there is none to be found with regard to this specific issue. The only statement we typically find with regard to the reception of Holy Communion in general is that a Catholic must be “properly disposed," which does not speak directly to the question at hand. The usual clarification of being properly disposed is, “Participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour.” Again, this broad statement does not give any real insight to the question at hand and makes the error of using the word “conscious” with regard to mortal sin (which is a discussion for another time).

In order to understand the act more clearly, it may be helpful to return to the moral manuals and examine the discussion on how much of the Mass one must attend in order to fulfill the Sunday obligation. In the manuals of Moral Theology, the question of fulfilling one’s Sunday obligation was framed in relation to the definitive point of the Mass when a person was considered too late and, if they did not attend another Mass, committed a sin against the Third Commandment. With regard to the manuals, we must recall that the reception of Holy Communion was not the explicit question but rather what it took to avoid committing a sin against the Third Commandment. In the moral life, discernment of actions should always be focused on remaining in a state of grace by understanding what constitutes gave matter and avoiding such acts. Amongst actions that constitute grave matter, we must emphasize Sacrilege, which the Catechism (2102) defines as “profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions” and is “a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist.”

In the era during which the moral manuals were written, most Catholics did not receive Holy Communion frequently. In this regard, the faithful had a strong sense that “properly disposed” for the reception of Holy Communion meant being in a State of Grace and approaching the Eucharist worthily. It would never have dawned on someone to come late to Mass and receive because many who were on time for Mass did not receive. To come forward for Holy Communion after arriving late was understood to be sacrilegious. With regard to the question on how late one could arrive and still fulfill the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday, one manual states, “It must be a complete Mass, i.e., assistance at it must extend from the beginning of the Mass to the last blessing.” In the subsequent discussion in the manual, anyone who was late or left early committed sin (against fulfilling the obligation) and the ensuing discussion was with regard to whether the sin was venial or mortal with the gravity being determined by how much or what parts of the Massed was missed. All lateness was seen as matter for sin but clarification was made as to when one’s lateness when went from venial to moral, from lesser matter to grave matter. The matter was considered grave if one voluntarily missed that which preceded the Gospel and left early, or if one came in as late as the offertory, or if one missed the consecration. In other words, the gravity of matter was determined by the amount of the Mass missed or the importance of what part of the Mass was missed. Again, we must keep in mind that the discussion centered on fulfilling the Sunday Obligation, which did not mean one had to receive Holy Communion but only had to be present and attentive during the Mass.

In the post Vatican II liturgical reforms, the encouragement for full and active participation was rooted in this same line of thinking. The faithful in attendance should be prayerfully engaged in the whole Mass, from beginning to end. The encouragement also included a more frequent reception of Holy Communion but this did not mean a suspension of the requirements such as being in a state of Grace and approaching Holy Communion worthily. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung to the other extreme and now everyone receives at every Mass with little consideration of being properly disposed. It has reached a point where many seem to believe they have a “right” to receive whenever they want for any reason at all.

It is in this context that there are so many today who have no problem arriving at a church as the distribution of Holy Communion begins and get right on the Communion line. What is wrong with this act is that it is sacrilegious, which is grave matter. This is so because the requirements for full and active participation for the whole Mass are needed in order to be properly disposed. In this regard and in light of the discussion of the gravity of matter from the moral manuals, to be properly disposed demands one be present for the entire Mass, from the opening blessing to the dismissal, and be fully attentive to what is happening at the Mass. Anything less than this would require one to NOT come forward for Holy Communion without being culpable of committing a sacrilege. Thus, one should NOT receive Holy Communion at a Mass to which they voluntarily arrived late and should NEVER receive at any Mass when they arrive at or after the Offertory without being guilty of committing a sin.

Time Flies

Three Years Later

It was on the First Sunday of Advent, 2009 that Bishop Murphy came to Blessed Sacrament and officially installed me as pastor at the 5:00 PM Saturday Mass. Shortly after arriving I quickly found out the reality that comes with being a pastor of a struggling parish. The bottom line, however, is that despite the trials and difficulties of getting a parish on the right track financially (which today overwhelms every pastor), it is always wonderful to see the spiritual growth of the people. It is particularly in the Year of Faith that I am reminded as to the reason for being a pastor -- shepherds must constantly submit themselves to The Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Only in this way can a pastor ensure that Christ’s flock is kept on the path to leads to Eternal Life.

'Tis The Season

Called Advent

I know many people today are convinced we are in the “holiday season” even though there is no such thing. And we are still not in the Christmas Season. Today marks the beginning of Advent. As it notes in the ordo:

“Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.”

Whenever we speak of the Second Coming it means we should have our souls ready for Judgment. Hopefully the next few weeks will be a time of Penance and Preparation for the Second Coming by Catholics and not a time of “carousing and drunkenness” as the secular world has made it. It is not a time of parties and shopping but a time to get on our knees and beg forgiveness!

Come Lord Jesus, Come!