Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Return...er, continuation in glory

Fr. Tom Blantz, CSC elevates the host in
the Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo

The Tridentine Mass is back...under a new name: Pope Benedict's "Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite."

Yes, the first official one since the 1960's returned to campus on Sunday, to make up for an otherwise dreary day in South Bend. The Alumni Hall Chapel was filled with close to about 150 people, mostly from the Notre Dame community. Fr. Tom Blantz, CSC offered the Mass in a new basilica vestment, made especially by the wonderful seamstress at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Mass took the form of a Missa Recitativa, permitted by Pope Pius XII, in which the congregation recites the parts of the altar boys along with them. Such a Mass was the Mass which the late Fr. Karol Wojtyla instituted in Krakow at St. Florian's Parish, where he was parochial vicar. The Mass drew many young people, who were interested in participating as fully as they could in the Mass. It is truly a beautiful form of the "full, active, and conscious participation" for which Sacrosanctum Concilium called for in Vatican II. If anybody telld me that this Mass does not allow for this kind of participation, I would point out that the congregation actually says more than it does in the Mass of Paul VI.

Either way, we are all happy that this form of the Mass is back on campus. It speaks of the great size of our faith, a Church which is able to fit many different things under the canopy of its umbrella. Pope Benedict has rightfully and thoughtfully requested that the Mass of the Extraordinary Form not be thrown out from under the umbrella, nor that it try to poke holes in the umbrella. It is where it belongs, because it shows that our Church believes in the "her,eneutic of continuity" of which Pope Benedict writes in his Motu Proprio. We have much to learn by humbly accepting his decisions, no matter which side of the liturgical wars we tend to sympathize more with. There is no doubt that the Extraordinary Form seeks to build gater unity--and it certainly has here on campus, except maybe among the liberal and never quite happy contingent of aging professors. When else have members of staff, faculty, and students from all clubs, majors, and extracurricular activities come together to worship as one Christian community? This Mass now offers a chance for the more tradition-minded orthodox Catholics to share something that they hold dear with the more "evangelical" and orthodox Catholics, and also a time for the more evangelical Catholics to show the traditional Catholics that action stems from the Liturgy. Indeed, it is the fount from which the activity of the Church flows.

Thus, rather than being a sign of contradiction or rupture, this Mass now provides a chance for all of the Notre Dame community to gather as one, and pray for and with the Church, partaking in the one Liturgy, which is Christ offering Himself to the Father in sacrifice out of love for us.

Mormon Theology 101

Mormon Theology 101

This is a great fundamentals of theology video about the Mormon doctrines; it is very accurate to the best of my knowledge. This post is inspired by Fr. Erik, who did a great job on EWTN's Journey Home last night.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Contiued Decline of Western Europe

Photos: Closed Cafeteria
So the trend in recent awful European church architecture continues with the dedication of the new Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima. I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage there two years ago, and wanted to cry when I saw the new church going up. Little did I know what the final result would be like...

I'm not sure what I want to say when I see it. It kind of looks like a large, modernist symphony hall. But then there's the weird crucified stick man outside--pilgrims' money probably contributed to paying for something that I could have drawn on my MacDraw program in 1989, when I first started using a computer, and when I thought it was really cool that I could actually draw stuff on a computer. It was mostly stick figures and circles---clearly the architect of this new church must have learned his comuter design on the same program I did. But never got much farther...

No honestly, though--I don't understand what the deal is with modern Catholic church architecture. I've seen many nicer things built by Protestants that are so much better! This church has no iconography (besides the "crucified AOL man," as Fr. Erik Richsteig called him), no verticality (it looks like a pancake), and no transcendence. It is cold, horizontal, and ugly. I'd rather sit and have Mass in my living room--at least I have some religious images.

Perhaps modern Church architecture in Europe reflects the general sentiments of the continent. Europe has grown cold--with perhaps the exception of Poland and parts of the former Eastern bloc. Portugal, as was recently seen in the debates in the EU, is slowly going the way of the modern secular humanism that has created a dictatorship over the lives of the common citizens. Apparently the Portuguese can no longer build any more churches to express their fervent and fiery devotion to Our Lady, who chose their country in a special way to bear the good news of God's love, mercy, and justice to the world.

Europe is cold--materialism plagues the lives of the young, the old have become increasingly shut off into their homes, left to lament and resent the past. This church is evidence of the fact that elements of the Church seek only to dialogue with the modern world by adopting the (ugly and empty) language of the culture. The Church is not called to adopt the language of the world, but rather to function as a leaven within the world. It is called to radically stand in the world, and yet not be of the world--to rather present a liberating message of the warmth and love of Christ. Christ came into the world to bring the world into Himself--to enter into the cold, dark, and dreary culture that men lived in, in order to bring reveal the passionate and fiery love of God the Father. The Incarnation--God becomign Man, changes our perspective on everything. Our faith, lived out and expressed in the Sacred Liturgy, the mingling of the sacred and the mundane, the human and the Divine, occurs in a church. The domus Dei, the porta caeli, calls us to enter into the reality that lies behind this earthly reality.

Does this church call us to enter into the heaven on earth, and reflect upon the Sacred Mystery of the Incarnation, which has kindled the love of God in the faithful for centuries--or does it say, "Christians, you are no different than the world. You need to adapt your ways to the modern culture, and fit in." Because I can tell you that Jesus didn't "fit in." He was crucified. And he was not an AOL guy.

Gipp Exhumed

ESPN and CNN have spread some controversy recently by reporting on the exhumation of George Gipp, one of the most famous All-Americans.

Why would anybody seek to do DNA testing on the remains of this football player? He was not known for his "mild" behavior, and did die, after all, after catching pneumonia when he had been locked out of his dorm for coming back too late, and spent the cold night on the roof of Washington Hall on campus. Are there other parts of his life that nobody has heard about until this point? Who knows...perhaps there will be more news soon...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nice reflection

Here is a reflection from Dr. John Cavadini, our Theology Department chairman, in his journal about the recent beatification of Basil Moreau, CSC. It is dated September 16th:


We arrived at the parish church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix, Our Lady of Holy Cross, at about 3:30 pm, a half hour before a service of evening prayer in thanksgiving for the life and legacy of Father Moreau. The church was already packed with people, praying and singing. Everything was jubilant, with daylight streaming in through the windows, sprays of dahlias and zinnias from local gardens, and the candles and votive lights in the sanctuary and at the tomb of Fr. Moreau. The service was conducted in French and English, alternating, for the benefit of the participants who had come from the United States and Canada, Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as from the parish itself and from around France.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is the greatest of shrubs; and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

The service opened with this reading from the Gospel of Matthew. The commentary in the service book mentioned “the tiny seed, planted in Le Mans,” that had “grown and become a tree which is an image of a family.” And yet my mind had been going back and forth between the vibrant, crowded ceremony and the seeming indifference, as far as I could tell, of the rest of the city of Le Mans, which seemed to go about its business with scant notice or even curiosity regarding Fr. Basil Anthony Moreau. Perhaps tomorrow, at the beatification ceremony in the stadium outside of town, it will seem different. But in the city there were no celebratory signs or flags, and the crowd in the church, though it filled its relatively small nave, did not flow out onto the plaza.

I found myself looking for the large “tree,” but the more I looked, the more the parable from Matthew seemed to present the “tiny seed,” “the smallest of all seeds,” instead. That, I took as an image of holiness, of the sanctity we celebrate in a beatification ceremony. For someone like myself, always seeking the verification, the external and glorious, self-evident fruit that will obviate the awkward need for faith, the parable served as a reminder that the essence of holiness is always hidden, always invisible, and always presented to faith and never, fully, to exterior inspection.

To read the story of Basil Anthony Moreau is to read the story of a “tiny seed,” a movement of the will, of love, sown deeply in a field of suffering that never seemed to abate, the kind of suffering that comes when vision collides with institution, when love seems ambiguously incarnated in a nexus of ambition, of competition for notice and privilege, of a desire for an instant and obvious big tree that can be claimed as one's own.

The “tiny seed” of holiness must have seemed completely invisible in the field of abandonment and disillusion in which it ultimately found itself hidden, at the end of Moreau's life. That it did not become gnarled into a twisted shrub of bitterness is the miracle of holiness, which is hidden, and yet which sends forth a “tree,” capacious and welcoming, which those looking for a home, for a “nest,” can find. This large tree is the tree of the Cross, of love and compassion undefeated by rejection, misunderstanding, or anything else–Love itself, in which alone are there branches suitable for a true home worthy of living creatures.

This tree of compassion, the Cross, is, as the motto of Holy Cross reminded us in the service, our “true hope.” If we are placing our hope in the verification of the large edifice of acclaim and prestige, the seed of holiness will always seem invisible to our vision. If we are true to the vision of the founder of Holy Cross, our hope is in the coherence of vision and grows into a gracious and welcoming tree of compassion and love to which all the birds of the air, in a world full of suffering, will gladly flock.

“Moved by his life given over to Christ, let us give thanks to the Lord for such marvelous deeds” (from the hymn, “Hommage a notre Fondateur,” sung during the service.)

Prof. John Cavadini
University of Notre Dame

Two Special Blesseds

Blessed Stanislaw Papczynski

I must say that I am doubly happy--not only was Basil Moreau beatified, but so was a new Pole--Fr. Stanislaw Papczynski, the founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics (who run the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA.


After praying the Angelus on Sunday, the Pope mentioned the beatification in Poland of Father Stanislaus Papczynski.

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Mass of the beatification, and the Holy Father sent his greeting to the faithful gathered there, saying Father Papczynski was "a priest who was exemplary in preaching, in the formation of the laity, a father of the poor and an apostle of intercessory prayer for the dead."

The Polish priest died in 1701 at the age of 72. He was the first founder of a men's congregation dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, long before the dogma was defined, the Congregation of Marian Clerics.

In his homily, Cardinal Bertone highlighted the Marian devotion of the priest, "an authentic friend of Christ, and his tireless apostle."

He recalled what Father Papczynski said: "A man without charity, a religious without charity, is a shadow without sun, a body without a soul. Simply, he is nothing. What the soul is for the body, charity is for the Church, for religious orders and centers."

ND Saint...almost

Blessed Basil Antoine Marie Moreau, CSC

This past weekend was a special weekend for all of us at Notre Dame, as the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross was beatified in Le Mans, France. Here is the official page set up by Notre Dame to commemorate this special event. Now we have one more saint interceding for Our Lady's university, and to whom we can officially pray!

From Zenit:

The Pope recalled Father Basile Antoine-Marie Moreau, who was beatified Saturday in Le Mans by Cardinal Saraiva Martins.

The French priest, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, was 73 when he died in 1873.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins said he "was a Christian of great spiritual stature, and at the same time, a man of action. He dedicated himself to the missions among the people, to the education of youth, to works of charity, and to the foreign missions."

"He contributed to the growth of the Church in the United States, to the foundation of the first Catholic schools in Algeria and to the first rural orphanage in Rome," the cardinal said. And he was in France, "one of the pioneers in the fight for the freedom of education," and contributed to the "rebirth of the Church in France after the revolution."

The Pope concluded his reference to the three newly beatified, saying: "I entrust in a special way to the intercession of these newly beatified their spiritual sons and daughters, that they follow with ardor the luminous testimony of the prophets of God, who is Lord of every life."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tropical Pope

Whoever the liturgist is who chose these vestments needs to be shot, or hired by TY.

Caption contest:
Who can come up with the best description for these vestments?
All I can think of is:
"The beanie baby mania having died down, TY decides to make a line of plush popes. This tropical pope comes with aquamarine vestments, to reflect the Spirit gently blowing like a sea breeze."

Sitting on the Rock, basking in the sun,
Is this Pope's idea of fun.
Cross and Mitre, shoes and Chair,
His life is so perfect without a care!


Rae from Quo Vadis has written up a very positive review of this blog. Thanks Rae!

Apparently my descriptions of my travels are a "virtual immersion experience."

Pro-Life Government

A poster warning of the death penalty for any Poles who would harbor and protect Jews during World War II.

Despite disappointing opposition by Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his government to the recent push in Poland to outlaw all abortion without exceptions, it is very encouraging to see Poland's steadfastness in standing up to the secular-minded E.U. Here is a link to an article about the recent move to make an Anti-Death Penalty day celebrated in Europe.

The problem with such a celebration throughout Europe, though I do not support the death penalty, is that it exhibits an inconsistent ethic of life. As Catholics, we must seek to be consistent in our defense of human life, and we should refuse to compromise on such essential points. If we oppose the death penalty, we should oppose abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and all the other forms of modern manipulation of human life. This is something that the liberal secularists in Brussels do not undersand--and by seeking to promote one aspect of the pro-life cause in the name of justice and freedom, while ignoring so many others just serves to show that like most EU decisions, this one is a politically-motivated cause. Again, the stronger and more vocal and powerful members of the (dis)Union are seeking impose their agenda on conservative and Catholic nations. Fortunately, Poland has not caved in, like Portugal did.

(Update: I just found out that today marks the 26th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty by guillotine in France. Which, I might add, was never legal in Poland...)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Latin and Ukrainian Catholics Dispute Church

Church of the Presentation of Christ, Lviv, Ukraine

(Warsaw)Ukraine's Eastern-rite cardinal has written his Latin-rite counterpart in an effort to resolve what church sources say is the first intra-Catholic dispute over a church building....Read more here.

This is the continuation of a series of disputes that have arisen over the fate of former Latin-rite churches in the city. As a once predominantly Polish (and therefore Roman) Catholic city, Lwow (Lviv) now must face the uncomfortable decisions that are the results of sixty years of communist goverments. When are confiscated churches to be returned? To whom are they returned? Who pays for the costs of remodeling (some were converted into concert halls, others into basketball arenas, and others into libraries and office buildings). For any adventurous architects out there, now is the time to go there to help everybody sort these problems out.

What is truly needed is a massive effort on the part of both the Ukrainian Church and the Roman Church to leave past grievances behind, and to move forward in order to build a strong, Christian Ukraine. The seeds of the New Evangelization were sown by JPII in 2002 during his visit--and I saw the thousands of Ukrainians at Pope Benedict's meeting with youth in Krakow last year. These young and zealous Catholics must not give up their faith and bend to the lures of secularism, and must seek to strengthen their faith particualrly through their unique religious heritage.

Back...I think

So after much debate, I think I decided to continue blogging on this site, even though I have long since returned from my journies abroad, and am back in the United States for at least the next little while.

I may not be blogging for the next few weeks, as there are some important events coming up in my life--however, I expect to be back by late August, hopefully with a new, updated, and more continuously managed blog!

In the meantime, I will be scouting the Polish and Catholic world for info and news!