Quote of the Day: The Liturgy

The plain fact is that not one of us is worthy of even the most poorly said Mass. Never in our wildest dreams could we ever be worthy. The Mass is an incomparable gift. In any form whatsoever, it is the living and continual representation of an infinite act of Love. For us! Our first obligation is to receive this gift with supreme gratitude and to treasure it in obedience to the authority God has established to provide it.

Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholicculture.org

Catholic Culture.org is one of my favorite websites.  The “In-Depth” Analysis from which this stunning quotation is taken is probably the best advice I have ever read about discussing the liturgy.  Please read the whole thing.  You will be glad you did.


Family Catechism.com

Over the weekend, I came across a new website that you should check out.  It’s called familycatechism.com.  It consists of 302 questions about the faith.  The official answer is provided by a priest.  For adults, there is a short video explanation of each by Francis Cardinal Arinze.  For kids, there is a short video explanation from Sr. John Marie Vianney.  In addition, there are links to excerpts from official teaching documents discussing an aspect of the question.  These are generally well-selected. Finally, there is a section with questions linking the doctrinal point to worship and living and finally a section of questions of ponder.

This description does not do justice to the visually pleasing presentation and ease of use.  The only part that mars the site is that the person interviewing Cardinal Arinze is not a professional interviewer and tends toward doom and gloom Catholicism.  Cardinal Arinze’s remarks can and should be taken on their own so the quality of the interview is less important.  One other point.  At the beginning, Cardinal Arinze reads the answers and provides little fresh insight beyond the answers.  This changes later on when the questions become less foundational.

Overall, this is a good resource for personal or family study.  Check it out here.

Local Church History

A regular Church Guy passed this along:

Some Local Church History


For more details, seehttp://www.stpatricksmd.org/page.php?id=11


The first Mass celebrated in the colonies was on March 25, 1634, on St. Clement’s Island, by Father Andrew White.  For about 15 years Maryland was a haven for Catholics and others.  When Puritans from Virginia took over, Catholics were placed under various legal disabilities, even extending in 1654 to deprivation of civil rights for Catholics and the prohibition of Masses.  After the Revolution, Catholic Americans found their condition much improved.


Up to the time of the Revolution Catholics in America were subjects of the Vicar Apostolic of London, who was himself either a fugitive in England or an exile in France.  Obviously, the needs of the new country required that a hierarchy be established in America.  The Reverend John Carroll was appointed Prefect-Apostolic by Pope Pius VI in 1784, and then Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Baltimore in 1789.  Bishop Carroll was the bishop of the entire United States as it then existed. In 1808 new dioceses were created, which relieved some of Bishop Carroll’s burden, and Baltimore itself was raised to an Archdiocese.


St. Mary’s Church in Rockville, was established in 1813 with Father James Redmond, S.J., appointed as the first pastor by Archbishop Carroll.  For the next 47 years St. Mary’s was the only Catholic church in Montgomery County; the priests who resided there were responsible for a gradually expanding Catholic population spread widely over the county.  Eventually mission parishes began to be established; the first St. Peter’s church was built at Hawling’s River (Mt. Zion), two and a half miles west of present-day Olney. The first church was built in 1860, and a new church was built in Olney 1898.  St. Peter’s remained a mission of St. Mary’s until 1953.


During the welcome lulls in the fighting of the Civil War, soldiers often worshipped with the local congregations that would meet at St. Mary’s Church in Rockville or in private homes around the county.  Catholic soldiers in both armies were the beneficiaries of the Catholic heritage of Maryland and Montgomery County.  Indeed, Maryland was the home of Catholicism in the United States.
The Archdiocese of Washington, at first encompassing only the District of Columbia, was established as a separate diocese in 1939, though Archbishop Michael J. Curley continued as archbishop of both Baltimore and Washington until 1947, only the second time in the history of the Church that such an arrangement was made.  In 1947 the Washington archdiocese received a new archbishop, Patrick Aloysius O’Boyle, and was expanded to include five Maryland counties:  Montgomery,Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert.


In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Montgomery County saw a rapid expansion in population, and this necessitated the establishment of several new large parishes and schools. The farmland around the Hannan property the site of St. Patrick’s and most of Flower Valley, was gradually being developed as suburbia expanded  along Georgia Avenue, Veirs Mill Road, and the Rockville Pike.

In the 1970’s, St. Francis of Assisi entered the picture . . . but that story will have to wait for a later post.

Thoughts On The Liturgy This Sunday

The bishops recently approved a new translation of the Liturgy.  It is my understanding that we will begin using it in Advent.  Recently, in speaking to priest of his archdiocese, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster made a number of points worth considering:

1.    My first conviction is this: Liturgy is never my own possession, or my creation.  It is something we are given,  from the Father.  Therefore my own tastes, my own preferences, my own personality, my own view of ecclesiology, are marginal, of little importance, when it comes to the celebration of the Mass.  We don vestments to minimise our personal preferences, not to express or emphasise them.  Liturgy is not ours. It is never to be used as a form of self-expression.  Indeed the opposite is the truth. Within the diocese, when the priests of a parish change there should be clear continuity in the manner in which Mass is celebrated. The Mass is the action of the Church.  That’s what matters, not my opinion.  I once heard that Blessed Pope John Paul never commented on a Mass he had celebrated.  It’s the Mass.  My task is to be faithful.

2.    My second point flows from this: the Liturgy forms us, not us the Liturgy.  The words of the Mass form our faith and our prayer.  They are better than my spontaneous creativity.  At Mass my place is very clear: I am an instrument in the hand of the Lord.  I am not a conductor, still less a composer.  Ordained into the person of Christ the Head, I am just an instrumental cause of this great mystery.  This is so important.  My celebration of the Mass each morning shapes my heart for the day ahead.  At Mass I am the Lord’s instrument just as I hope to be in the day that follows.  In all the events of the day, in the decisions I make, the words I speak, my greatest, safest hope is that the Lord will use me and that I, personally, will not get in His way.  We are servants of the Liturgy through which God opens to us His saving life.

These are very important points.  The Liturgy is not ours nor the Church’s.  It is a gift from the Father.  Understanding Mass that way changes a lot for me.  It causes me to have fewer opinions – if the Liturgy is God’s gift to us, then my response in faith is to accept.  What a fool I would be to carp about a gift from the Almighty Master of the Universe!  The ingratitude is breathtaking.  It would be like saying, “God, you are the Supreme Being; perfect in knowledge, perfect in power, and perfect in love.  But, I, finite creature that I am, think you got it wrong with the Liturgy stuff.  So I guess you’re not all-knowing, all-powerful, or all-loving.  Maybe next time; I will let you know if I approve.”  Absurd, but very, very common.

The second point is important, too.  “The Liturgy forms us; not us the Liturgy.”  God gave us the Liturgy to help form us so that we could join Him in Heaven.  This point is similar to the first.  The Liturgy is not ours to shape and manipulate as we please.  It is a gift from the Father intended to bring us to greater holiness.  We are changed by the Liturgy, not the other way around.

Archbishop Nichols concludes with a beautiful point:

[W]henever the Liturgy of the Church, the celebration of the Mass, truly enters our heart and soul, then the result is a vibrant sense of mission. When we meet the Lord in all His love for us, then we are ready to respond, especially in the care we give to the poorest and those most in need, those closest to the Heart of our Saviour.

Although the degree to which we will feel this sense of mission will differ according to each person’s spiritual development, the Liturgy strengthens it.  Although directed toward his priests, pondering Archbishop Nichols’ thoughts would be worthwhile for all.

Love and The Cross

I ran across the following post on another blog that offers a well-written, profound reflection on this perennial question.  It began:

Last week I commented on a story about a woman who chose to kill her unborn child in order to spare him (what she thought would be) a life terrible suffering. In my comments I mentioned that, though she thought she was acting out of love, she was actually confusing love with pity and a kind of selfish empathy. Why? What does it mean to really love and what is one to do when a loved one is suffering so terribly?

Read the whole thing.

Beatitudes of Married Couples (Re-Post)


A few days ago, I linked to Fr. Francis Peffley’s website. It is full of interesting and helpful resources. Here is a beautiful set of beatitudes for married couples that I found:


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO COMFORT EACH OTHER — who provide a refuge and sanctuary from the chill winds of the world; whose marriage is a hearth from which comes peace, harmony, and warmth of soul and spirit.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER — who listen to not only words, but non-verbal language of tone and expression; who listen to understand rather than to argue.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO SHOW AFFECTION — who warm each other with their soothing touch; who remember that just as babies can die from lack of affection, so can marriages wither from a lack of closeness.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO RESPECT EACH OTHER — who remember that the most important quality in marriage is to HONOR each other.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO CAN BE FRIENDS AND PARTNERS — who remember that friendship can be a peaceful island, in a world of turmoil and strife; who can reflect upon the tranquility of future years shared with a true friend; who are not battling enemies under the same roof.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO ALLOW EACH OTHER TO BE UNIQUE — who do not seek to force each other into a new mold that can only fit with much pain and discomfort; who accept the other as God made us.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO ARE OPEN WITH EACH OTHER — who avoid secretness that causes suspicion and doubt; who trust and reveal themselves to each other even as a budding rose opens to reveal its beauty and fragrance.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO CHERISH THEIR UNION — who let no one separate their togetherness, not another person, nor friend, nor worldly possessions.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO GIVE EACH OTHER APPROVAL — who see that compliments encourage confidence in the other, while criticism divides; who do not point out the other’s mistakes, for all too soon each will discover their own faults.


BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO LOVE ONE ANOTHER — love is the river of life — an eternal source of recreating one’s self and each other. Above all else — LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS CHRIST HAS LOVED US.


Website Wednesday: Happy Catholic

Although not technically a website, Happy Catholic is a beautiful blog with interesting and helpful posts.  What I like best about it is its excellent use of themes and pictures.  Check it out!  You can find it at http://happycatholic.blogspot.com/.