Monday, September 28, 2009

St Mike's Reunion

This Sunday, a reunion group for the St. Michael's Conference, Southwest was held at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Fort Worth. There was a great turnout of teens for confession, fellowship, dinner, Solemn Evensong, a faculty talk, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to close the evening. Here are some pictures.

"When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' He said, 'Do not be afraid,B)"> for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 15-17).

"And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth' "(Revelation 5:6-10).

Have a listen to the conference hymn:

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thy appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father Jones gave great address on angels. According to It's a Wonderful Life, "Every time a bell rings, an angels gets his wings." That may be what the teacher says, but is it what the Bible says?

O saving Victim opening wide
the gate of heaven to us below;
Our foes press on from every side,
thine aide supply, thy strength bestow.

All praise and thanks to thee ascend
for evermore, blest One in Three;
O grant us life that shall not end
in our true native land with thee. Amen.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
honor, thanks, and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever too his love confessing
who from both with both is One. Amen.
Thou gavest them bread from heaven;
Containing within itself all sweetness.

O God, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left us a memorial of thy passion: Grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

Blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From a sermon of Andrew of Crete (740) on the Holy Cross:

"Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ's side, blood and water for the world's cleansing. The bond of our sin would not have been canceled, we should not have obtained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.

Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honorable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation--very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory. The cross is honorable because it is both the sign of God's suffering and the trophy of his victory. It stands for his suffering because on it he freely suffered unto death. But it is also his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Visit to St. Barnabas

This past Tuesday, I visited one of our new churches in the diocese for the first time, Saint Barnabas in Keller/North Fort Worth. I was a visiting celebrant and preacher for two Sundays a few years ago when they were still meeting at the local elementary school. Their current location opened about a year ago, and their founding pastor is Father Louis Tobola.

The large parish hall doubles as a worship space until they build a new church in the next phase of their construction. It is a nice set-up, as you can see below.

The shrine of Our Lady and the Stations of the Cross are very nice.

I was attending a meeting of the Catholic Clerical Union. Father Stephen Jones (above) from Holy Comforter in Cleburne gave a great talk on the life and work of Pope Paul VI.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Prayer vigil for the diocese

The Bishop has called for a special prayers to be offered and for Wednesday to be kept as a day of fasting and intercession for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The prayers below were offered this morning and will be offered daily through Wednesday. I invite you to join us.

Almighty God, who sittest on the throne judging right: We humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates of this land, especially the 141st District Court in Fort Worth, the Honorable John Chupp, presiding; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone: And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, to send down upon our attorney Shelby Sharpe the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose he may faithfully serve thee in the representation of the of the people of this diocese; through him who shall come to judge the quick and the dead and the world by fire, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Addressing problematic funerals

Jeffrey Tucker hits a home run with this entry at the New Liturgical Movement. He argues that the return of the Dies Irae would address many of the problems with contemporary funerals. He writes (emphasis mine):

From all the accounts I read of the Ted Kennedy funeral (I didn't watch it), or, rather, the political beatification, what happened was as tragically contrary to Catholic/Christian teaching and liturgy as we might expect. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the life of the deceased, and of course declare the deceased to be in Heaven. Bad theology aside, these are abuses which would not happen under stricter rubrics.

Even today, diocesan regulations are as clear as they are widely ignored, e.g. this from Chicago: "A eulogy is never appropriate where a homily is prescribed (Order of Christian Funerals), but examples from the person's life may be used in the homily."

There are many reasons for this ban, but one reason is to put a stop to the tendency of all eulogies to state with certainty that the person who died is in Heaven right now. Of course we cannot know this. It is outrageously presumptuous of us to pretend to know the mind of God and the eternal destination of the recently deceased.

Why do we so badly want to do this? Is it because we want the best for the person who died? Certainly but the Church encourages us to pray for the dead to fulfill this pious impulse.

Another reason, perhaps the real reason, is actually more selfish. We are trying to comfort ourselves, give ourselves assurances that we are in God's good graces and so should have some sense of certainty about our own eternal destinations. We are declaring ourselves to be Heaven-bound and thereby shielding our own eyes from our sins that have stained our souls and might have separated us from God. We are seeking comfort not in truth but in the tapestry of myths that we are weaving about ourselves: all sins aside, we all deserve salvation and we are going to get it.

Read the whole thing here.

Here is an English translation (from the Anglican Missal) of the sequence Dies Irae, sung between the epistle and gospel of a Requiem Mass. It is a song about judgment day, but also about the particular judgment that awaits each soul at death. As Tucker points out, it is a song about the dead with a message for the living.

Day of wrath, and doom impending,
David's word with Sibyl's blending:
Heaven and earth in ashes ending.

O what fear man's bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth!

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth's sepulchres it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.

Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To it's Judge an answer making.

Lo! the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded,
Thence shall judgment be rewarded.

When the Judge his seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.

What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
When the just are mercy needing?

King of Majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us.

Think, kind Jesu, my salvation,
Caused thy wondrous Incarnation,
Leave me not to reprobation.

Faint and weary thou hast sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me,
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Righteous Judge! for sin's pollution
Grant thy gift of absolution
Ere that day of retribution.

Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame and anguish owning:
Spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning.

Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.

Worthless are my tears and sighing:
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying
Rescue me from fires undying.

With thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To thy right hand do thou guide me.

When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me, with thy Saints surrounded.

Low I kneel, with heart-submission:
See like ashes my contrition!
Help me in my last condition!

Ah that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him.

Spare, O God, in mercy spare him:
Lord all-pitying, Jesu blest,
Grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.

On contemporary fundamentalism

I recently found this page, which had a few observations I had not thought about regarding Christian fundamentalism. Perhaps you will find it interesting too. Chris Armstrong writes about "Six Things I Learned While Writing about Contemporary Fundamentalism:"

A few months back I wrote the chapter-length essay “Fundamentalism: Contemporary” for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of American Religion, edited by Charles Lippy and Peter Williams (CQ Press). And six things about the American Protestant fundamentalism of the past few decades jumped out at me with new clarity. I wonder, as I note them in this blog entry, whether everyone else knew these things but me, or whether some of this will come as “new information” to the readers of Lippy and Williams’s encyclopedia.

Here they are:

1. In the 1970s, fundamentalism transformed itself from a theologically focused movement engaged in a heated church battle within several Protestant denominations, to a culturally focused movement engaged in a heated battle with the “forces of secularism” in America:

You can read the rest here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

It's just like that out here, Part V

I found a dead Armadillo in the far side of the yard. I decided not to take a picture.