Sunday, September 1, 2013

Faith in Baseball, and a Tim Tebow, Patriots/Cowboys Rant...

I was raised a baseball fan... a Cincinnati Reds fan to be specific. It's nice, therefore, to see an article about a baseball player (or any professional athlete, or public figure in society for that matter) talking in a positive way about faith.

Speaking of, don't get me going about how the media has treated Tim Tebow, who was cut from the New England Patriots this weekend. Tebow: "the most controversial figure in the history of the NFL" according to at least one broadcaster this weekend... Controversial for WHAT? NOT taking steroids, or HGH, or violating the league's drug policy, or being arrested and convicted of any number of crimes, like so many of the other run of the mill players nowadays who are considered to be "non-controversial...?" Don't get me wrong, Tebow's uber-Evangelical faith is certainly not the story line that the media is looking for when covering the NFL, but hey, what's "controversial" about anything he has said or done? I find it strange and a sad critique of our society that Tim Tebow is found to be "controversial," or even "the most controversial player ever in the NFL." So you're telling me OJ Simpson gets beat out on that one by Tim Tebow? The New England Patriots were NOT a favorite team of mine well before Tim Tebow played for them. Nor were the New York Jets. Denver doesn't get a pass either. Did I mention Tebow has as many playoff victories as Tony Romo, who has been largely canonized for years now by the football media...? But I digress...

While I'm not a White Sox fan, I'm now a fan of their catcher and what he has to say HERE. He'd better be careful, though, of the "most controversial player in MLB" tag that some will surely be throwing at him as a result... Harrumph!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Presentation on Chant in the Liturgy at St. Martins Church, Louisville...

Dr. Paul Weber, our Director of Sacred Music and Organist at St. Martins, will be giving a presentation on "The Tradition of Chant in the Roman Rite" at 1:30 pm on Sunday, August 18 in the parish hall. Come early for the noon Extraordinary Form Mass and hear chant in action in the Church's liturgy!

Click HERE for a link to the announcement over at the New Liturgical Movement blog, who has picked up on the story.

New White Solemn Set of Vestments...

Thanks to a benefactor, a new solemn set of vestments in white was ordered a couple months ago. These arrived yesterday from Gammarelli's. The chasuble is in the "Phillip Neri" style. Here's a few pictures:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Thoughts on "Ad Orientem" Celebration of the Eucharist...

A Blog post that a parishioner recently forwarded to me, from Msgr. Charles Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington (Link is HERE). Here's the full text of the post:
Some years ago the theologian Fr. Jonathan Robinson wrote a commentary on the modern experience of the Sacred liturgy and entitled it, The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward. It is a compelling image of so much of what is wrong with the celebration of the Liturgy in many parishes today. While Fr. Robinson certainly had the celebration of Mass “facing the people” in mind, his concerns are broader than that. Indeed, we have the strange modern concept of the “closed circle” in so many modern conceptions of the Mass. Too often we are tediously self-referential and anthropocentric. So much of modern liturgy includes long lists of congratulatory references, both done by, but also expected of the celebrant. Instead of the Liturgy being upwardly focused to God and outwardly toward the mission of the Church (to make disciples of all the nations), we tend today to “gather” and hunker down in rather closed circles looking at each other, and speaking at great length about ourselves. We have even enshrined this architecturally in our modern circular and fan shaped churches that facilitate us looking at each other, and focusing inwardly, not up or put. The author Thomas Day once described Modern Catholic Liturgy as, “the aware, gathered community celebrating itself.” [1] In the ancient orientation or “stance” of the Mass that was ubiquitous until 1965, the focus was outward and upward. Though disparaged by many in recent decades as the priest “having his back to the people” even this description shows the self obsession of the modern age. And to those speak this way about the liturgical orientation of almost 2,000 years, the answer must come, “The priest does not have his back to you. Actually it is not about you at all. The liturgy is about God. And the priest, and all the faithful are turned outward and upward to God.” The liturgical questions of the history of the eastward orientation and its recent loss, of how and why we got into the modern closed circle mentality, and the erroneous understandings of the liturgists of the 1950s about the practice of the early Church, are all discussed more aptly by others more liturgically versed than I. Please consider dear reader that my proposal is not for a sudden and swift change in our liturgical stance. Rather, that we begin to ponder if, by our inwardly focused stance in circular and fan shaped churches, facing each other, we are communicating what we really intend. Does our stance project that our real focus here is God? Does it communicate the goal of the liturgy to lead us to God? Does it inculcate a spirit of leadership in our clergy who are called to lead us to God? Does a largely closed circle manifest an outward trajectory to evangelize outward and unto the ends of the earth? Whatever pastoral blessings come with “facing the people” (and there are some blessings) there may be value in continuing to reassess whether our modern pastoral stance of an inwardly focused liturgy serves us well and communicates what we are really doing and experiencing. I would like to link the current “closed circle” liturgical experience to another struggle of Church life today: the crisis of leadership. Many of the lay faithful have come to decry the crisis of leadership among the clergy. And while there are excesses in way these concerns are expressed (according to me), there is surely a grave hesitancy on the part of too many clergy to lead. Too rare are clergy today who point to God and the will of God in clear and unambiguous terms. Too many of us prefer to speak in abstractions and generalities. I do concur that we have experienced so degree of a crisis in leadership. There are notable exceptions to this problem, but it remains a widespread issue. And of course the primary place that the faithful ought to experience leadership is in the sacred Liturgy, where the clergy unambiguously point to God and lead others to Him. But the stance of the Liturgy as a kind of closed circle does not easily support this sort of thinking. To be sure, there are many reasons for the current crisis of leadership in the Church. Surely the overall crisis of manhood in our culture, along with passive or missing fathers is a central cause. Also related is the rise of feminism and the designation of normal male tendencies to competition and leadership as “pathological” and misogynist. Many normal school boys, full of spit and vinegar, and a tendency to rough-house are “diagnosed” and medicated, and told explicitly to behave more like girls. There are also modern tendencies that are unreasonably hateful or suspicious about power and the use of authority, along with a kind of hyper-vigilance not to offend, and to be obsessed with how others “feel” about things. And while “getting along” with people and being respectful of their feelings are good dispositions in themselves, they are not absolute virtues and must sometimes be set aside for the higher good of pointing to the truth of God and insisting on it. Hence, there are many factors that have fed the crisis of the leadership among the clergy. But I propose that liturgical orientation is both emblematic of the crisis of leadership and also fuels it. While a priest is called to love his people, speak to their hearts and even to learn form them, he is most especially tasked to lead them to God. And while, in the Liturgy of the Word, it makes sense that he turns to them to instruct and engage them, there ought to be a moment when he turns to God and leads his people toward God. The Eucharistic Prayer is surely this time. As priest, he leads. Acting in persona Christi, he leads the people, (for Christ said, “follow me”) out to Calvary, to the death and resurrection, to new Life. In this Jesus, acting through the priest, also leads back to the Father. He is leading us somewhere. But leaders do not walk backward facing their followers. They are out front, at the head of the procession. One of the Collects of the Breviary asks that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before. But there is usually very little sense of leadership in the current liturgical environment. There seems the unspoken demand that the leader, our celebrant, focus on us, rather than God. His job is to please and enrich us, rather than point to God and insist that we follow. Leadership suffers under this kind of expectation of “enriching” and affirming, rather than summoning to discipleship and pointing unambiguously to God. The direction of the Liturgy should be an “onward and upward” trajectory. But too often today it is inward, and it is difficult to perceive a motion upward to God or outward to evangelization. I realize that a post like this will generate considerable controversy. But remember that this is only a discussion. I do not argue for sudden or radical shifts in our liturgical stance, only that we should continue to discuss it and explore various options. I am only a priest, not a bishop and I do not argue that priests act independent of their bishop in significant matters such as this. Further, some settings are better for a change of stance than others. Great pastoral discretion is required in matters like these. Neither do I argue for a return to Mass wholly facing the altar as was done in the past and still often is in the Extraordinary form. The Liturgy of the Word is authentically directed to the people of God for their edification, instruction and attention. It ought to be proclaimed to and toward them, as is fitting to its purpose and end. But the Eucharistic Prayer is directed to God, and not the celebrant is leading the faithful on procession to God. St. Augustine often ended the his sermon and the Liturgy of the Word by saying, “Let us turn to the Lord” and he then went up to the altar, facing it and leading the people to God. So this is a discussion, that is all. And I pray it be conducted with mutual charity and, I might add, brevity. For while I heartily endorse the discussion of the Sacred Liturgy, it has well been observed that we Catholics run the risk of being so focused on what goes on inside Church that we lose any focus on the mission of getting outside and evangelizing! It would be ironic indeed and a countersign if, in arguing that our liturgy is too inwardly focused, that we who agreed or debated spent too long focused “inwardly” discussing the problem. Truth be told, Liturgy debates sometimes use up too much oxygen! So have at it. And remember the focus of this post is not merely liturgical. Rather what I am pondering is how well our liturgical stance reflects and supports what should be our pastoral stance.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day Off Fishing...

Had a chance last week to spend my day off on the Cumberland River. The weather around here has been decidedly non-summer like for the first part of August, and I couldn't resist taking the chance to get out and float the river. Thanks to a friend who is pastor of the parish down that way, who lets me crash at his rectory.

Check out the video HERE

Monday, July 22, 2013

Concert Series at St. Martin of Tours, Louisville...

I'm very pleased to announce that, under the direction of our new Director of Sacred Music and Organist, Dr. Paul M. Weber, we are beginning a series of concerts of classical and sacred music at St. Martin of Tours in downtown Louisville. The first concert will take place on Friday evening, August 9th at 7:00pm. Organist Emily Meixner and baritone Matthew Grote will perform pieces of Bach, Handel, Brahms, Buxtehude, Rheinberger, and Alain. Admission is free; a free will donation may be made.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rationale for "Ad Orientem"...

I came across an article from our friends at the FSSP who have produced what is - in my estimation - a pretty clear and insightful rationale for celebrating the Mass "ad orientem." Here it is...

(Originally from the June, 2011 Fraternity Newsletter)

There are scientific ways of knowing the identity of a person, such as fingerprinting, retinal scans, or DNA analysis; however, in everyday life, the identity of a person is by his face. It may happen that we see a person from behind or from a distance and think we know who it is, but until we see the face, the identity of the person can remain in doubt.

The human face is so unique that, except for identical twins, we instantly know who a person is merely by sight of it. Furthermore, we often associate everything we know about the person by the face. His abilities, personality, and past shared experiences become so much a part of his face so that even the person’s reputation and name are tied to it.

By means of the face, we also ascertain how a person must be feeling at the moment. The countenance indicates whether a person is sad, upset, content, or joyful. Likewise, the face expresses what is even deeper inside the person, such as moods, dispositions, likes, and dislikes.

Close contact with the face of another person expresses intimate love, while not showing one’s face or “turning one’s back” on another person expresses anger, disappointment, or contempt.

A conversation is personal when conducted face-to-face, but the same conversation loses its familiarity when the parties are speaking on the telephone or across the room from each other. Talking while being occupied with something else is considered not giving our full attention, and speaking with one’s back towards the person is considered rude or insulting.

Turning, then, to our conversation with God — prayer — it is best realized only in Heaven where it will be face-to-face, but until then, it helps to picture the Person with Whom we are conversing. Hence, while praying, when the mind focuses upon an image of God, whether internally or externally, we better maintain our attention.

In order to assist us at the greatest prayer, Holy Mass, we face the Altar upon which the Sacrifice of Calvary is made present, and, together with the priest, we adore and beseech God. The entire congregation and priest focuses upon God, and our posture and visage are directed in such a way as to face the One with Whom we are speaking. As a result, the posture of the faithful should not be considered as facing the priest; rather, facing God, since Mass is not a conversation with the celebrant, but the Triune God.

While the priest offers Mass, he does everything possible to show respect, maintain attention, and not lose sight of the great action before him while he concentrates upon the prayers given him to say. To assist him, he faces heavenward, beseeching the Blessed Trinity on behalf of his flock.

Thus, he does not have his back turned towards the people; rather, the priest is facing the same direction as the rest of the community who are facing God. As we do not take offense by the person who has his back towards us in the pew in front of us, so too, there is no offense when the priest has his back towards us as we are all praying to the same Blessed Trinity, and all faces are directed toward Him to Whom we are speaking.

To take this analogy one step further, if, perchance, the person in the pew in front of us turned around and faced us, we would expect him to say something. Likewise, when the priest at Mass turns towards us, we expect his words to be directed at us; otherwise, it is obvious that he is speaking to someone else at those times he is faced in the same direction as everyone else in the church.

By having the priest face God during Mass, there is the additional benefit of the identity of his human nature diminishing when his face is not seen. During Mass, the priest acts in persona Christi, so that the less we see the face of the priest, the more his personality and identity subside. Consequently, our minds more easily focus upon the occurring holy actions and sacred mysteries as we avoid attention given to any concomitant human elements.

As mentioned above, at those times when the priest faces the faithful, such as the sermon, we instantaneously realize to whom these words are directed. However, to avoid the atmosphere becoming too “humancentric,” the priest maintains a dignified mannerism even at these times, in imitation of Christ preaching to the faithful of His time.

Yet, arriving at the most solemn parts of Mass, when our attention is most directed towards God (ad orientem), all our efforts—internal and external—are united in adoring and praising the Triune God in the most sublime and reverent manner.

Awaiting, then, the happy state of the elect who see God face-to-face in the beatific vision, our conversing with God on earth ought to be shown by humble and reverent attention, love, and devotion. Doing so will prepare our soul never to lose sight of God for all eternity.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Green High Mass Vestments...

A new high Mass set of vestments in green arrived in yesterday's mail. I commissioned this set from the "Holy Rood Guild" - the Trappist monks of Spencer Abbey in Massachusetts. I plan on using this set for our celebrations in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. Here's a few pics...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Corpus Christi 2013...

Corpus Christi 2013 Mass and Procession at St. Martin of Tours Church in Louisville, KY:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Solemn High Pentecost Mass...

I was fortunate to be able to host some friends visiting from out of town: Br. Edward and Fr. James. We took the opportunity to celebrate a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for Pentecost Sunday. It so happens that the day was my 12th anniversary of ordination too. A wonderful celebration on all accounts...

Monday, April 22, 2013

R.I.P. Fr. Charles Schoenbaechler, CR...

I had the tremendous honor today of fulfilling the final request of a dear friend, mentor, and priest. I celebrated - in the Extraordinary Form - the solemn requiem of Fr. Charles Schoenbaechler, CR. In the presence of Archbishop Kurtz, joined by members of his community of Resurrectionists, priests of the archdiocese, and hundreds of the faithful with whom he was much beloved, we commended his soul today to the mercy of Almighty God.

There are many words that were used to describe father by those who knew him and were touched by his ministry: holy, devoted, prayerful, dedicated, wise. He was one month shy of celebrating his 71st anniversary of priestly ordination. Devoted to the Extraordinary Form of the Church's liturgy, he ministered faithfully to the Lord's flock.

Rest in peace, Fr. Charles, and may your goodness to us be rewarded.

From his ordination & first Mass:

From today's requiem Mass: