44 Years Ago

The Truth Proclaimed

It was 44 years ago today that Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae in which he proclaimed the Truth about the Transmission of Human Life and the moral status of contraception. Although many thought he would change direction on this issue, he did the only thing a pope could do -- he upheld the Church's long Tradition and Teaching on the issue. In this regard, no pope can change the Truth or issue a statement that contradicts the natural moral law.

It seems that today many ignore the Teaching and act in ways contrary to It. A recent Gallup poll found that 89% of the general population believe contraception is morally acceptable. More distressing is that 82% of the Catholics surveyed said they believe contraception is morally acceptable. While it would be easy to hold the people accountable for a mistaken view, the fact of the matter is that many simply do not know the Teaching in this area. The reason may well be the silence many priests and religious have kept on the issue.

In this regard, we again see an example of the catechetical failure that has hindered multiple generations with regard to the Truth. However, regarding Catechesis on the intrinsic evil of contraception, the failure has extended to priests and religious as well as popular theologians who claim the Teaching is mistaken. It is not just that the people are unaware but that, in some circumstances, they have been given misinformation. To correct this failure, more parishes and priests need to make note of initiatives like the National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.


Freedom Is Not Just Another Word

The people of the United States have long celebrated their independence on this day. While I am far from home, I still pray for the hard fought freedoms our great country has given to us. As we have reached the final day of the Fortnight for Freedom, may our prayers be effective in opening the eyes of all to see that freedom of conscience is one of the hallmarks our founding fathers made sure would be protected. This particular freedom is most fundamental and should not be taken lightly by any of the citizens of the United States. Although the Fortnight is coming to an end, may all Americans continue to pray for true freedom and also keep this issue at the forefront of political debate in the coming months!

Holy Mass

It Is More than a Translation

Some months ago the newly translated Roman Missal was implemented in every English Speaking country. In our diocese, there was plenty of catechetical opportunities offered to catechize the priests and the people in order to demonstrate that the Holy Mass is more than words. The Holy Mass is about prayer and ritual. The Holy Mass is about the sacrificial offering that has reconciled Man to God. The Holy Mass has a very strong vertical component that was deemphasized over the years by well intentioned liturgists. For many years, priests in the English speaking world took many liberties with regard to the celebration of Holy Mass and effectively reduced the celebration to a social gathering. As the abuses multiplied, the pews emptied. For sure there is a direct correlation.

The new translation remains an opportunity to overcome the deficiencies that have crept in and restore the Mass to its sublime dignity. However, having concelebrated Holy Mass with priests from other English speaking countries in recent days, it seems they have decided to impose many of the same abuses into the new translation. Using the new translation without rediscovering the beauty of the liturgy is a clear indicator of the catechetical failure and it is essential that we begin with the reform of the liturgy if the failure is to be properly addressed. This particular part of the reform must begin with the priests and religious whose love for Holy Mass must take center stage.

The first step is to recognize that Holy Mass is not a feel good moment given to us by Christ in order to address the congregation's psychological problems. Holy Mass is not a popularity contest or a "sales pitch" seeking to impress a target audience. At the core of praying the Mass is reconciliation with God, which must precede reception of the Eucharist if It is to be effective. At the core of praying Holy Mass is self-abandonment. Cutesy additions and personal piety by the priest or the people do not accomplish this end. Prayerful faithfulness goes much further…