View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Alaskan Hallelujah!

Responding to a blog post by Ray Grosswirth

Ray Grosswirth has a blog, My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

Ray has his own ideas of the direction the Church should take - a decidedly progressive direction.

I've known Ray for years, and while we disagree on a number of things, we have always been respectful of each other.

In a December 19 post he noted:

One area that I plan to scale back is my involvement with efforts to reform the Roman Catholic Church - an involvement that has taken up approximately twenty years of my life. I am beginning to think it is time to allow the next generation to decide what kind of church it wants, whereby they can engage in the same type of lobbying with bishops my generation has experienced (perhaps with better results).

I tried to post a comment, but was not allowed. I know in the past he's gotten some negative and unpleasant comments, so he may have placed limits on comments.

Anyway, here's my response that I tried to post:

What I'm seeing is that the younger generation is rediscovering the more traditional Church. They are following the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and Archbishops like Dolan and Chaput. The dioceses that are growing in terms of numbers when it comes to laity and vocations are the more traditional ones.

And the progressives dioceses are dying out as their proponents age.

We'll see. Good luck with your retirement. I have at least a decade to go myself!

"Fatherless" by Brain Gail: Worth reading!

I just finished reading Fatherless by Brian Gail. I'd actually started reading it months ago, but only now just found the time to finish it.

It was a good read. The plot flowed along well; the characters were pretty much believable.

I particularly like the homily that ended it: Would that I'd hear something like that in a church today! I'm tempted to give the book as a gift to some priest friends!

I know Gail has written a sequel, Motherless. I will look for that one.

As for Fatherless: I recommend it.

The slug chronicles (187)

a slug among weeds
this year resolves to resolve
no resolutions

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Record!

46.4 inches of snow in December - the new record. Maybe a bit more in the next couple of days?

Meanwhile, January's record is 61.3 inches back in 2004? Not certain of that. Five feet of snow. Hmm....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let it snow!

Just an inch, nothing more,
not enough to block the door.
Just an inch and we get
a monthly snowfall record set.
Just an inch, not a mile,
that's enough to make me smile.
Just an inch, yes that'll do,
and perhaps next month a record too?

(If we get another half inch of snow, we'll set the record for December in Rochester NY of some 47 inches. Since we're so close, why not!)

No Mass is a gift??

I was at a church on Sunday. The pastor got up at the end of Mass to announce some "good news."

Because New Years Day is falling on a Saturday this year - we don't HAVE to go to Mass.

He described it as a gift??

In many parts of the world, in many eras, having a Mass one could get to was a gift. People risk their lives to get to a Mass. People travel long distances to get to a Mass.

Now if he'd announced that it's not required, but that the parish would be having a special Mass to celebrate The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, for those who wished to attend, fine.

But no Mass: The parish doesn't even have a Saturday Mass anyway (just the Saturday evening Mass for Sunday).

How sad that a priest would think it's good news we don't have to go to Mass.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Prayer for Secular Franciscan Vocations

National Prayer for Vocations to the Secular Franciscan Order

Here is a version of the national prayer from our Fraternity's newsletter. Perhaps it could be cut and placed somewhere that it could be prayed daily.

Good and Gracious God,
God of mercy, compassion generosity and love,
as we live our lives in the model of Saint Francis,
choosing daily to live the Gospel life,
Help us to help others hear your call,
Help us to help others to recognize their vocationas a Secular Franciscan
that You have already planted in their heart,
Help us so that together we all may work
to bring the Gospel to life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kneeling during the Consecration:Clear guidelines

From the GIRM - General Instruction on the Roman Missal

Chapter II #21. For the sake of uniformity in movement and posture, the people should follow the directions given during the celebration by the deacon, the priest, or another minister. Unless other provision is made, at every Mass the people should stand from the beginning of the entrance song or when the priest enters until the end of the opening prayer or collect; for the singing of the Alleluia before the gospel; while the gospel is proclaimed; during the profession of faith and the general intercessions; from the prayer over the gifts to the end of the Mass, except at the places indicated later in this paragraph. They should sit during the readings before the gospel and during the responsorial psalm, for the homily and the presentation of the gifts, and, if this seems helpful, during the period of silence after communion. They should kneel at the consecration unless prevented by the lack of space, the number of people present, or some other good reason. (emphasis mine)

But it is up to the conference of bishops to adapt the actions and postures described in the Order of the Roman Mass to the customs of the people. [50] But the conference must make sure that such adaptations correspond to the meaning and character of each part of the celebration.



At its meeting in November, 1969, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops voted that in general, the directives of the Roman Missal concerning the posture of the congregation at Mass should be left unchanged, but that no. 21 of the General Instruction should be adapted so that the people kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic prayer, that is, before the Lord's Prayer. (emphasis mine)

Unusual circumstances do not exist at my parish. We have room. The church is not overcrowded on regular Sundays and daily Masses. There are kneelers for every pew (just not for the few chairs). So ... we should be kneeling, not standing during the Consecration.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blindsided by Liturgical Dance (part 2)

I did have a chat with the pastor.

He acknowledged that they should have posted something in the bulletin beforehand to warn (my words, not his) people who don't like liturgical dance.

He said they will post something in the future. Which is part of what I wanted.

But ...

Liturgical dance will continue, in part because the diocese allows it.

There will be times when I will not be able to take part in music ministry - either with the choir or with Rock of Faith - because there will be dance. That saddens me: Two of the last three times Rock of Faith provided music had dance, and so if I'd been warned I would not have been playing. How many more times will that happen? I don't know.

He did not want to discuss the issue itself.

Too bad. I had all sort of ideas bubbling around in my head.

One of the concerns at the parish is getting young people involved. A good thing.

One thing that would help is making the Masses more orthodox in general to help foster an environment of sacredness. Some of the things that could be done:

Have people kneel for the Consecration, as they are supposed to. Our parish has adopted the bad liturgical practice of standing throughout.

Stop the practice of having children come up to surround the altar and hold hands for the Our Father.

Begin to teach people about behavior and dress at Mass. Show up on time. Stay until the end. Don't eat, drink or chew gum during Mass. Don't wear gym shorts and tee shirts to Mass. Don't wear revealing clothing. Don't carry on conversations with other people during the Mass.

Tell one of the retired priests who assists at the parish to stop using his homilies to criticize the Vatican, to promote women's ordination, and to misrepresent Church teachings and statements.

Just those few changes would help to show young people Church is more than just a social time, that it has a deep, spiritual dimension.

As for Youth ministry:

Begin to include more elements of prayer, like Benediction and Eucharistic Adoration, in activities.

Have the young people participate as a group in such events as the March for Life in Washington, or the Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion here in Rochester on Good Fridays. Have them help in the food pantry.

Start a youth choir.

Start Scout troups, or, even better, some Catholic equivalent of Scouting.

Reach out the St. John Bosco School to see if they would be interested in renting the school building (and bring in some orthodox Catholic education!).

Start a regularly scheduled young adult/teen Mass. Have Rock of Faith provide the music. Get youths and young adults to become the lectors, Eucharistic ministers, etc.

Plan regular movie nights featuring Catholic films (coupled with prayer).

Have Catholic-oriented concerts and theater events.

Invite dynamic orthodox youth-oriented speakers and musicians - or go as a group when other parishes have such people.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

We do a lot at the parish, but we could do more.

Dancing is not the answer. And what will they do in a couple of years if a new bishop comes in and starts phasing out such activities?

Respect at Mass

A post over at SFOMom got me thinking about people who leave Mass early at my parish.

Some folks head for the door right after Communion. Even more leave as the final hymn is being sung.

It could be in a few cases there are real emergencies that force them to leave early. But in most cases it's too regular to be an emergency, and I've noticed some of the same people doing it week after week.

I consider that disrespectful to the choir that's leading the music, to the priest who's celebrating the Mass, to the community they are a part of - and, most importantly, to God. You can't spend four more minutes with God? Getting out of the parking lot fast takes precedence over the Lord?

I occasionally attend another parish on Sundays. A while back, the pastor made a passing comment about people leaving early. It was clearly an issue he had addressed before, so he didn't dwell on it. But the point was clear.

Since then I've realized when I attend that parish I see very few people leave before the final hymn is over. Some people even kneel back down and say a few prayers. Also, there are not a lot of people milling and talking in the church: They wait until they are in the hall.

It helps when the priest speaks up, leads, reminds. By his words he can help establish a spirit of respect and reverence. He doesn't have to be shrill or beat people over the head. It can be a few reminders. Something in the bulletin. Maybe a homily on behavior at Mass?

And while we're at it - maybe there needs to be more said about not showing up late all the time (would you do that to a business meeting, or to your boss's house?), about dressing properly at Mass (not like you're on the way to the gym or to mow the lawn, or wearing low-cut revealing tops, etc.), or about not sitting there chewing away at gum the whole Mass, or about turning and talking with neighbors every time there's a "break" (Father's praying, or the choir is singing, or the rest of the congregation is on the way up for Communion).

It's God's House. Show some respect. Show some leadership.

Christmas Day - let each creature sing!

Christmas Day -
let each creature sing its own

Sunday, December 19, 2010

At the Mall (A Mall Santa's Prayer)

There are just two more shifts this year at the mall - today and Christmas Eve Day.

My sixth season.

Here's something I wrote the first year:

A Mall Santa's Prayer

As I hold each precious child
let me treat each one
with the love and care I'd show
Your most holy Son.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jesus at the wedding feast

Speaking of dance ...

One of my favorite Mysteries of the Rosary is one of the new Mysteries of Light promulgated by Pope John Paul II: Jesus at the wedding feast.

When I think of a Jewish wedding, I think of joyful dancing.

Did Jesus dance?

Some might have a hard time with this - but I can picture him dancing with the rest of the celebrants. It was a wedding feast - a joyful time.

So as I meditate on this Mystery, one of the things I picture is Jesus laughing and dancing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blindsided by Liturgical Dance

They threw a curve ball at me at Mass this past Sunday.

Rock of Faith, a contemporary liturgical music group I'm in, was scheduled to provide the music for the fourth grade Mass.

All seemed well as we readied for Mass - until I looked up. There were some young ladies in dresses with beribboned sticks obviously waiting to take part in the entrance procession.

Liturgical dancers. Ready to perform what the pastor euphemistically calls "sacred movement."

Movement which has no part in Western liturgy.

I was irked. I had made it clear to pastor that I did not think liturgical dance was appropriate at Mass. I had refused to play at one Mass when the dancers had been announced in advance.

This time, there was no advance notice.

I felt blindsided. (Added later: I don't believe however there was any deliberate ill-intent.)

We began to play. They proceeded down the aisle twirling those ribbons. I had to work hard to focus on what I was playing.

Then they stood (down off the altar platform) flanking the pastor, twirling away as he led the opening prayers.

Their twirling looked silly - and decidedly not sacred.

The thought crossed my mind that I should just unplug my guitar and leave. But that would not have been fair to the other members of Rock of Faith. There were a couple of pieces where they were depending on my guitar playing, and they clearly had no time to prepare for my absence (as they had the time I refused to participate in the dance-stained Mass).

As soon as Mass ended I left the church (I had to get to the mall for duty as one of Santa's helpers) without saying a word to anyone, feeling angry and, in a way, betrayed.

I plan to ask the pastor if he would please announce in the bulletin in advance whenever the dancers will be participating at a particular Mass - just as he announces when Rock of Faith will be playing.

But what if he doesn't?

Do I walk away from the choir and Rock of Faith because I can never be certain when he'll spring this on us again?

And even if he does post announcements in advance, how many times will I have to not play with one of the two groups I'm in?

Is it time to move to another parish? I can just imagine how my wife will react to that.

So much running through my mind.

Including the image of four young ladies twirling ribboned sticks in what should be a time for sacredness.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A little Red Green for Christmas

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flash Mob Hallelujah Chorus

Five Franciscans on path to sainthood

Pope Benedict XVI has advanced the sainthood causes of 16 of the faithful - including 5 Franciscans.

The list was released after the Pope met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican’s office for the causes of saints, December 10.

The New Blesseds include:

Servant of God Marie Clare of the Child Jesus (nee Libania do Carmo Galvao Meixa de Moura Telles e Albuquerque), Portuguese foundress of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1843-1899);

Servant of God Antonio (Miguel Faundez Lopez), Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1907-1936), killed during religious persecution in Spain;

Servant of God Bonaventura (ne Baltasar Mariano Munoz Martinez) Spanish cleric of the Order of Friars Minor (1912-1936), killed during religious persecution in Spain;

Servant of God Pedro Sanchez Barba (1895-1936), Spanish priest of the Third Order, killed during religious persecution in Spain;

Servant of God Fulgencio Martinez Garcia (1911-1936), Spanish priest of the Third Order, killed during religious persecution in Spain.

The others whose causes were advanced included a bishop declared a saint: Blessed Guido Maria Conforti, who founded the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions, the Xaverian missionaries.

Declared Blesseds were Servant of God Francesco Paleari, Italian priest of the "Cottolengo" Institute (1863-1939); Servant of God Anna Maria Janer Anglarill, Spanish foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Family of Urgell (1800-1885); Servant of God Dulce (nee Maria Rita Lopes Pontes), Brazilian religious of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (1914-1992); and Servant of God Alois Andritzki, German diocesan priest who died in the concentration camp of Dachau (1914-1943).

The new Venerables are Servant of God Antonio Palladino, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1881-1926); Servant of God Bechara (Selim Abou-Mourad), Lebanese religious of the Basilian Salvatorian Order of the Melkites (1853-1930); Servant of God Maria Elisa Andreoli, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Reparatrix Sisters Servants of Mary (1861-1935); and Servant of God Maria Pilar of the Sacred Heart (Maria Pilar Solsona Lamban), Spanish religious of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Religious of Pious Schools (1881-1966).

Brothers and Sisters in heaven, please pray for us!


Friday, December 10, 2010

The abortion-breast cancer link (and cover-up)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sanger caught distorting the truth

Margaret Sanger, the foundress of what would become Planned Parenthood, is caught dodging and lying. Planned Parenthood has continued to follow her example.

Time Capsule: Mike Wallace hammers Margaret Sanger in 1957 interview

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Prochoice violence: Broken windows and threats

From Lifesite news:

The home of long-time pro-life leaders Joseph and Ann Scheidler was attacked in the middle of the night last night, with bricks of asphalt being thrown through two front windows.
One of the bricks contained a threatening note from an obvious abortion supporter. The attack occurred around 2 am.

The note read: “We are crazy feminist bi***es who will destroy your sexist ideas.”

“P.S. I’ve had an abortion and no laws could ever stop me,” it continued. “You can’t make Queen Anne’s lace illegal, a******.” The seeds of the Queen Anne’s lace flower are traditionally believed to be effective as an early abortifacient.

Joseph and his wife Ann Scheidler are among the most respected pioneers of the pro-life movement, and have been active on behalf of the unborn for decades. Scheidler is the head of the Pro-Life Action League.

Scheidler told that he had gotten wind of a low-profile meeting of abortion activists in the vicinity last night, which he speculated could be linked to the vandalism.
While the first time his windows have been smashed, Scheidler said he was not new to such tactics.

“We’ve had spraypaint all over the columns, spraypaint on the garage, and of course when we’re out on the streets ... we’ve had knives thrown at us, metal and eggs, I got a bucket of paint on me one time,” he said. “So we’re used to hatred.”

A police report has been filed and a handyman scheduled for a separate repair was replacing the windows.