“That All Might Sing” – My Paper on Pope St. Pius X’ paper on Church Music and the Chant Method of Justine Ward

For the Feast of Pope St. Pius X:

Originally written for Dr. Katharine Harmon’s History of the Catholic Church in America Class on 11-21-14.

690_Justine_Ward_Gajard_1949I enjoyed writing this piece on how Pope St. Pius X’ document Tra Le Sollecitudini was interpreted and engaged here in America, specifically by Justine Ward, who founded an amazing way of teaching Gregorian Chant to children. Justine started and held the first Congress for Chant in America. “What she wants above all,” wrote Dom Augustine Gatard, O.S.B., Prior of Farnborough Abbey, England, who was at the Congress, “is to put the faithful, all the faithful, in the position to participate actively, as much as possible … in the liturgy and in the chant of the Catholic Church.” (2) She especially encouraged girls’ choirs. (3) In a private audience in 1924, Pope Pius XI gave his Apostolic blessing to her work. (4) Thanks be to God for Justine Ward and the many others who assisted in the beautiful Liturgical Renewal we have had in the Church. May it continue to be renewed and may Justine Ward and St. Pius X, help teach us a little bit about walking the Way of Beauty to Heaven, more specifically through the Heavenly Liturgy.

That All Might Sing: American Catholic Responses to Pope St. Pius X’ Tra le Sollecitudini

John Adams once wrote: “Went in the afternoon, to the Romish Chapel [in Philadelphia]. The scenery and the music are so calculated to take in mankind that I wonder the Reformation ever succeeded … the chanting is exquisitely soft and sweet.” (Chase, 61) While Adams witnessed the beauty of the proper execution of “Romish” chant in October 9, 1774 he never could have envisioned what would one day take place in the country soon to be founded in regards to the proper execution, teaching, and use of Gregorian chant. Throughout the early part of the 20th century a response to Pope St. Pius X’s 1903 Tra le Sollecitudini (Instruction on Sacred Music) was carried out across the globe by Catholic musicians in different ways. Some, embraced the changes wholeheartedly, others chose to implement parts of them with and without proper catechesis. In the United States of America Pius X’s Motu Proprio was embraced particularly by Justine Ward a woman with little musical instruction, but with a passion for music and her new faith. Across the board, the training of the young in the church’s tradition of music was seen as one of the most important responses to Pius X’s instruction on Sacred Music. Ward and others took this to heart in developing programs, which educated the young in methods of chanting and ensured that all might sing.

From 1903 on into the 1920’s and finishing up around the 1950’s what could be called as the last “traditional” Catholic music movement occurred in response to Pius X’s Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (hereafter referred to as “TLS”). TLS was written and promulgated by Pius X after a series of abuses in regards to music in the liturgy kept happening. Pius ordered that there be two particular types of music to be used in the Roman Liturgy. That is, Gregorian chant, which has been “inherited from the ancient fathers” (Pius X, II 3) and Classic Polyphony. The main reason for these abuses was that the music was becoming quite operatic and theatrical. Instead of being music, which by nature of its’ composition and execution lifted the congregation to God and was a prayer in itself; music in the Sacred Liturgy had become a show, detracting from the sacred action occurring.

As previously stated, throughout the early twentieth century there was a varied array of

Pope St. Pius X
Pope St. Pius X

responses to Pius X’s TLS, one of which was the action of Justine Ward. Ward, thought to have had no formal training in “vocal music, choral music, or pedagogy” (Brancaleone, 7) became known as one of the leading advocates of and promulgators of Gregorian chant in America. Due to her parent’s wishes for her to not pursue a musical degree in Europe, she was left with receiving private musical instruction. (Zuberbueler, 14) Ward, a Catholic convert started to fall in love with Gregorian chant due to her friendship with Fr. Thomas E. Shields and Fr. John B. Young SJ (Brancaleone, 8) and having attended a retreat given “at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville in Harlem” (Brancaleone, 8) by another Jesuit she began to learn the basics of pedagogy (the methods and concepts of teaching) and formulate ideas on how to teach Gregorian Chant to children.

America in the 20th century was still largely protestant, no doubt due to the large number of protestant immigrants who settled the country early on. One has to wonder as to why in 1903 a church, struggling to become better recognized and understood in the mainstream (and mostly protestant) culture would continue to push the use of a language (latin) which was no longer spoken conversationally, in not only their worship but especially in their music. Robert Holzmer S.M. wrote an article about the people not “liking” Gregorian chant in the then-popular Catholic Music journal: The Caecilia. In his article he discusses a few reasons of why Gregorian chant is not liked by the majority of Catholic congregations. Pius X and his Motu Proprio is one of the first “authorities” on the subject that he quotes. Holzmer argues partially that because the pope said it, it must be true, but also from an informed knowledge and understanding of Gregorian chant. “Gregorian Chant is Church music while the other forms are also church music” (241) Holzmer reconnects his future points back to Pius X, reaffirming what he stated of Gregorian chant as having pride of place in the Roman Liturgy, but also acknowledging that other types of music (classical polyphony) can be used as well. Holzmer goes on to state that there are several factors at play with why people don’t like Gregorian chant. Factors such as an ill-trained choir, poor musicianship on behalf of the choir, conductor, and organist, and the basic element of people not understanding the reasons for the use of Gregorian chant or the language it is in. Holzmer closes his article by stating: The most important of all, and, unfortunately, the most neglected. It is the training of the young in music…” (241) Like Ward, Holzmer recognized that without the training of the young in the music of the church, there would never be a hope for “this venerable music…to come back to its rightful domain, when it will be supreme again in fact as it has always been by right?”

Dom G Mercure, a Benedictine Monk of the Monastery of St. Benoit-du-Lac, Quebec wrote in a 1935 issue of The Caecilia: “one of the reasons why Gregorian Chant is not more widespread in ecclesiastical music circles is because the public expect to find in Gregorian chant, or plain chant, the same element of sensible pleasure that is found in profane music or even in religious music other than plain chant.” (213) Pius X in his Motu Proprio TLS knew well the state of music in the church and world. For instance throughout the War Between the States (1861) Union and Confederate Soldiers used hymns as a way of rallying the troops and bringing them comfort from home. Hymns such as the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or Dixie would be heard across the battlefields as soldiers marched. Still others such as Amazing Grace, or It Came Upon the Midnight Clear were sung in many protestant churches at their services. Hymns in the spoken language of the people gathered, tended to have more emotional and pleasurable connotations associated with them. As people heard these hymns full of poetic and beautiful language they were attracted to them more and more. The chants of the church in a language unknown seemed distant and did not stir the emotions of the musically untrained ear. How were the Catholic musicians in America supposed to combat these feelings, which could not be ignored?

Justine Ward in her article for the Atlantic Monthly published in 1906 The Reform in Church Music puts it well: “church music is made up of two elements, music and prayer, and it cannot be judged by the value of one of its elements tested as a separate entity . . . “Lex orandi lex cantandi”… Prayer and music must so combine as to make one art; the music must pray, the prayer-must sing…This, then, is the true test of a musical composition for the church: Does it conform to the law of prayer?” (455) According to Justine music should not be judged as solely inspiring emotion or being judged on the music alone, rather music for use in the Liturgy is interwoven with prayer in such a manner that the two cannot be separated. For to separate these two things, which in a way are one, is to tear that work of art apart. To Pius X, Gregorian Chant is the primary music of the church. Holzmer, Ward, and Mercure all agree that there are certain aspects of Gregorian Chant which must be met in order to ensure that it is sung properly and can truly be that unification of “music and prayer” (Ward 455) The promulgation of Gregorian chant in the church as well as to provide the means necessary for its’ survival relied upon the teaching and training of the young in chanting and the proper execution of this tradition. Ward, working with Fr. Shields, Fr. Young, and eventually Dom André Mocquereau (founder of the Solesmes method of Gregorian chant) created a program that would do just that.

Early in her career, after her conversion to the Catholic Church and divorce of her husband (which left her considerably wealthy) Ward started working with Fr. Shields and Young while assisting at the Catholic University of America. After a short period there “in the summer of 1916, Mother Georgia Stevens asked Ward to come to Manhattanville” (Brancaleone 10) In 1917, she with the help of Mother Stevens created the Pius X Institute of Liturgical Music, a school devoted to training teachers and students in not only what was becoming known as the “Ward Method,” but also in other forms of Liturgical Music in the Church. Ward’s method of teaching chant to the young was unique in that it used body movements as a way of understanding rhythm. Through the Pius X Institute and her newfound friendships with Dom Mocquereau, and others Ward began to share her method of teaching Gregorian chant with others in other countries. “In 1925, Ward brought her method to Holland…Belgium, France, England, Ireland, New Zealand, China, and Italy.” (Zuberbueler, 16) For Ward teaching and singing Gregorian chant was a chance at learning, singing, and praying. It was a way of living the liturgical life of the church in a new way.

While Ward worked on the teaching of Gregorian Chant others in America took a different approach to the Pius X’s TLS. According to Paul Hume’s Catholic Church Music, one of the ways in which the objectives of the Motu Proprio were enforced was through the creation of a “White List.” “The “White List” is a list of music approved for use in church by the St. Gregory Society of America. The idea of having a “white list” comes from Pius X: “Still, since modern music has risen mainly to serve profane uses, greater care must be taken with regard to it, in order that the musical compositions of modern style which are admitted in the Church may contain nothing profane, be free from reminiscences of motifs adopted in the theaters, and be not fashioned even in their external forms after the manner of profane pieces.” (Pius X, II 5) This movement in the church away from music of a secular nature was led by Pius X and joined by Ward, the St. Gregory Society of America and others. Ward and the St. Gregory Society of America published hymnals containing chants and hymns, which followed the “Classic Polyphony” called for by Pius X. Pope Pius XII later in 1955, published Musicae Sacrae Disciplina an instruction on the usage of hymns for the liturgy.

In Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, Pius XII says: “We must also hold in honor that music which is not primarily a part of the sacred liturgy, but which by its power and purpose greatly aids religion. This music is therefore rightly called religious music. The Church has possessed such music from the beginning and it has developed happily under the Church’s auspices. As experience shows, it can exercise great and salutary force and power on the souls of the faithful, both when it is used in churches during non-liturgical services and ceremonies, or when it is used outside churches at various solemnities and celebrations.” (Pius XII 36) Granted the usage of hymns was already something that was customary in the church at the time. With the stipulations imposed on music by Pius X, hymns (note: vernacular hymns) were not to be used in the Liturgy, but instead could be used for prayers, gatherings, processions, novenas, etc. In short, they could only be used for celebrations outside of the Liturgy. Gregorian Chant was still the official music of the church and remains so to this day.

For some 60ish years the stipulations imposed by TLS stood and the Ward Method helped ensure its’ future survival. Though as the Church drew closer and closer to the middle of the 20th century the advent of the Second Vatican Council appeared on the horizon. Up until this point Gregorian Chant and Classical Polyphony were the only types of music to be used in the Liturgy. Ward’s method seemed to prosper, for decades, being spread throughout the world. With the end of the 1950’s and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in sight, church music in America was once again something talked about. Gregorian Chant was the norm for music in parishes; even the smallest tried to create a choir, which would be able to chant the Propers of the Mass. Hymns were sung by Catholics in the 20th century (including some protestant ones) as long as it was for worship outside of Solemn Liturgical Functions.  The renewal of Gregorian Chant in the church was almost complete and there were many to thank for it. The movement of 20th century Catholic Church Music in America was one that will forever define the history of the church here and around the world. The impact of one woman who embraced the call of the Holy Father to return to the sacred traditions of music in the church through the construction of her teaching methods ensured that all, whether young or old could chant with a little effort. For Justine Ward chant could not be “listened to as music” rather through the “ears of faith”(Ward, 460) To her “the music must pray and the prayer must sing” (455) “For the carrying-out of the full ideal demands the co-operation of the entire people, who will no longer assist at, but take part in, the liturgy. This may not be accomplished in a day, but the Church works for the future, and already she is sowing the seeds. The little Catholic school child is learning to pray, not only in words, but also in song; not only in the Church’s language, Latin, but in her musical language,

Chant; and when these children grow up, our choirs will be the whole Catholic world. While the variable and the more elaborate parts of the liturgy will demand the great genius, the great artist, the simpler parts will be taken up spontaneously by the entire congregation; producing the superb contrast of, on the one hand, the perfection of art, and on the other, the majesty of numbers. This is, indeed, nothing new: it is thus that the liturgy is intended to be rendered; it is thus that it has been rendered in the past, and is still rendered in a few centres of Catholic life. It is simply a return to the true ideal, a “renewing of all things in Christ,” a revitalizing, through art, of the spirit of Catholic democracy and universality.” (Ward 462-463)

Justine Ward and others worked tirelessly, embracing the call of the reforms instituted by Pius X and catered them specifically to children. They worked for an idea that would be largely envisioned in coming years by the Second Vatican Council. They worked to ensure that all might sing.

Work Cited

Brancaleone, Francis. “Justine Ward and the Fostering of an American Solesmes Chant Tradition” Sacred Music Fall 2009: 6-26. Print.

Chase, Gilbert. America’s Music New York: McGraw- Hill Book Company, Inc. 1995. Print

Holzmer, Robert. “People don’t Like Gregorian Chant” The Caecilia May 1935: 239-232. Print.

Hume, Paul. Catholic Church Music Binghamton: Vail-Ballou Pres, Inc. 1956. Print.

Mercure, Dom G. “True Church Music Should Calm the Mind Not Minister to the Senses” The Caecilia May 1936: 213-214. Print.

Pius X, Pope. Tra Le Sollecitudini, Vatican City: Vatican State, 1903. Vatican.va

Pius XII, Pope. Musicae Sacrae, Vatican City: Vatican State, 1955. Vatican.va

Ward, Justine B. “The Reform In Church Music” The Atlantic Monthly January 1907:455-463. Print.

Zuberbueler, Amy. “The Ward Method: Chant from the Ground Up” Sacred Music Spring 2006: 14-17. Print.

Masquerade (The Masks We Wear)- Reflections from Candletime and Phantom of the Opera


As most of my friends know, my favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera. In it, we find a masquerade ball that is held in the Opera Populaire to celebrate the first year of success by its’ new owners, Monsieurs Firmin and André. All of the cast, workers and patrons come and perform a dance on the steps leading into the theatre. During it they sing the following song, of which I have provided the text from. You can watch/listen to it here:

Last night we talked in candletime about masks. We had learned throughout the day about the masks that we wear, and encouraged to come up with ways to take them off. More after, the following:

Paper faces on parade . . .
Hide your face,
so the world will
never find you!

Every face a different shade . . .
Look around –
there’s another
mask behind you!

Flash of mauve . . .
Splash of puce . . .
Fool and king . . .
Ghoul and goose . . .
Green and black . . .
Queen and priest . . .
Trace of rouge . . .
Face of beast . . .

Faces . . .
Take your turn, take a ride
on the merry-go-round . . .
in an inhuman race . . .

Eye of gold . . .
Thigh of blue . . .
True is false . . .
Who is who . . .?
Curl of lip . . .
Swirl of gown . . .
Ace of hearts . . .
Face of clown . . .

Faces . . .
Drink it in, drink it up,
till you’ve drowned
in the light . . .
in the sound . . .

But who can name the face . . .?

Grinning yellows,
spinning reds . . .
Take your fill –
let the spectacle
astound you!

Burning glances,
turning heads . . .
Stop and stare
at the sea of smiles
around you!

Seething shadows
breathing lies . . .
You can fool
any friend who
ever knew you!

Leering satyrs,
peering eyes . . .
Run and hide –
but a face will
still pursue you!

Read more: Phantom Of The Opera – Masquerade Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It was a beautiful moment watching these young men share their struggles, share their emotions and a little bit more about themselves. Some talked of how they are not very outgoing and ways that they could try to make new friends, others about how they can be less annoying, others talked of hiding behind masks of distrust or failure and how they were planning to build up their self-esteem. It was a beautiful moment of growth for all of us to share a little of our burdens and work toward becoming those better Men, which god is calling us to be.

The group presenting to the campers talked of how we can better realize the simple fact that we are all beloved Sons and daughters of God. Our Program Director, Jessy Bennett, her husband Ethan, and baby daughter, Lillian Rose talked about the love that a parent has for their child. They asked the campers to consider that if their parents love them so much, how much more does their heavenly Father care deeply and love them? If you check out our Gasper River FB page here, you can see the photos of these kiddoes that we are blessed with this week. Look at the close-ups of them. (We take a lot!) They are most definitely beautiful Sons and Daughters of God. The joy in their faces, the smiles upon their faces, the laughter in their eyes, the moments of surprise. God had and did a beautiful job in creating each one of them. He made them in his beautiful image and likeness. Will you join me in praying for these young men and women, as they walk their Way of Beauty? Join me in praying for them as they continue this week and the rest of their life? Pray that they may know of their beauty. Know of the love God and their families have for them, the love that the camp staff have for them. May they come to know that the masks we wear aren’t important, but the beauty that lies underneath (Love Never Dies, reference) is what is important. Let us pray for them that they may come to stop the dance and the masquerade and be true, virtuous, and holy for the sake of the kingdom of God. Amen.

This is from last year, but aren't they just beautiful?
This is from last year, but aren’t they just beautiful?

A light in the Dark – Reflections on Candle Time at camp & the Paschal Candle

Well, tonight we started our first ever duo-camp! We are running two camps at once this week. Expedition (7th-8th grade), and Quest (5th-6th). I’m working the Expedition camp and also being a staff counselor (living in the cabins with the campers) this week.

It’s a camp tradition that every night after campfire we close with candle time, a time to be candle-in-the-dark-reporter_087897with each other as brothers, share a little about the day and encourage each other to grow. In the past we have actually used candles during candle time, normally though due to a problem a few years back we don’t though some staff like myself, do like to pull out a candle every once in a while if a group is doing well.

The boys (still not men or young men, but getting there) did excellent tonight. They shared their Holy Spirit moments from the day, talking of how it was so good to be accepted by other boys their age, when they are not always accepted at school. We talked of how the smiles on everyones face made them want to be here at camp and how they were so happy to see glimpses of the fun we would have together this week. Many of them shared how this was some of the happiest few hours of their lives thus far and how they couldn’t wait to see what would come tomorrow. Others saw the Holy Spirit in the storm which seemed to pass by over us without much thunder and no rain. One said: “a real sign of how God’s hand is protecting us and guiding us here at camp this week.”

Our second question we prompted them with was if there was anything they were nervous or worried about for camp this week. One boy shared of how he worried for his grandmother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Still, another worried about his parents celebrating their 20th anniversary and hoping that they had as much fun as was going to this week. Some worried about what their mom’s would do without them this week. Others were scared for the weather and what we would be able to do if it rained all week.

We closed candle time like we opened it with one of the boys leading us in prayer. The camper who did the honor said a beautiful spontaneous prayer he prayed from the heart. (It’s his first time as a camper too! 🙂 )

As we began candle time I invited the boys to come sit around me on the floor so that they could be close to the candle. It was one of those simple inserts that we use for the Sanctuary lamp, that I had placed in a cut crystal bowl with a clear cylindrical globe. Easter-Vigil-CandleThe light danced across the room and across their faces, which you could tell were filled with wonder, nervousness, and awe. I was brought back to the glorious Vigil of Vigils; that is, the Easter Vigil, where we bring the single lighted paschal candle (a symbol of Christ, the light of the world) into the church for the first time. There in the closed space, the light dances off of the walls and stained glass, as well as the priest, congregation, and other ministers faces. It too is a moment of rejoicing for the church, as we welcome Christ, the risen savior back!

So too, like the Paschal candle being carried into the Church, we, the staff are called to bear Christ into the world, especially to these campers and everyone we encounter this summer. We are to pour ourselves out Eucharistically, give of ourselves in charity, love one another and help each other get to Heaven. I pray that we may continue to be that beacon of light in the dark for the campers, here this week and the rest of the summer. Will you join me in praying that that may be so? May we take the beauty we experience on this journey; this walk, and share it with those who so desperately need it.

Here’s a short poem on the Paschal Candle, I found and thought I would share:

The Paschal Candle
Burns brightly in the darkness
Light conquers darkness.
Death is banished forever.

The Christ Candle
A symbol of the Risen Lord
The victory of life over death
Heaven over the grave.

The Easter Candle
The Alpha and the Omega
The beginning and the end
The omnipotence of God.

The White Candle
Christ, yesterday and today
The Light of the world
Forever present amidst His own.

The Tall Candle
A pillar of strength day and night
All time belongs to Him
All ages under His power and rule.

The Cross bearing Candle
Five grains of incense ingrained on it
The five wounds of our Lord
The sacrifice once and for all.

The Vigil Candle
A celebration of the first Easter
To the one who merits
All praise and glory in every age to come.

Maria Franco

Gasper Summer Staff 2015

Now, if you will please excuse me, I have to go wrangle some of the boys who can’t sleep and keep going to the bathroom. Oh my, I’m so thankful for my parents, (especially my Dad and the priest-fathers in my life on this Father’s Day.)

Let us continue to walk this way of beauty to God together. Oremus pro invicem!

Consecrated and Set Apart – Recognizing our own Consecrated lives through the Consecration of the new Altar at Gasper River

The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, prior to the Altar dedication.
The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, prior to the Altar dedication.

This past week we had the dedication of the new Altar at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center in Bowling Green, KY. Gasper has been my “home” and summer job for the past two years. (This final round is #3) It was a great joy and blessing to be able to emcee the dedication and serve alongside my friend Sam Rasp, Deacon Matthew Keyser, and my Bishop.

The Liturgy for the dedication of the Altar during Mass is in my opinion one of the most beautiful liturgies. It is one that is steeped in tradition, full of beauty, prayer, and symbolic actions. During the Liturgy there are several main actions that are performed. This movement of different actions in the Mass and ritual for the dedication of an Altar is a wonderful way to look at walking the way of beauty. It is a way in which we can encounter God and his Son Jesus, in unique, beautiful, and meaningful ways. LEt’s look at this Ritual a little further and see how Consecrating an Altar works and how it relates to us as a consecrated and chosen people.

First at the beginning of the Mass, the Altar is sprinkled and blessed with Holy Water, a

The Bishop sprinkles the Altar with Holy Water
The Bishop sprinkles the Altar with Holy Water

sign of the intended use for a holy purpose of the object. (The same reason why we bless medals and ourselves with holy water.) Then after the homily the Litany of the Saints is sung, invoking the intercession of all of the holy men and women of God as well as the angels. The Litany reminds us that we do not act alone in this world or in our faith. The Bishop then prays an extremely long prayer of dedication for the Altar, calling to mind the many different altars that have been erected and established throughout Salvation History. The text for this prayer can be found at the bottom of this post. After the Litany and prayer of dedication the Bishop removes his chasuble and puts on a gremial

Deacon Matthew and I assist the Bishop in binding his sleeves and placing a gremial on him.
Deacon Matthew and I assist the Bishop in binding his sleeves and placing a gremial on him.

otherwise known as a linen apron, to protect his vestments from being ruined by the Chrism Oil. (Hey, Liturgies and rituals are supposed to be somewhat messy!)

The Bishop then anoints the Altar with the Oil of Sacred Chrism, the oil which leaves an indelible mark on a person’s soul and sets them apart for a sacred person. At Baptism, we see that a person is set apart for a life in the family of Christ, at Confirmation, those graces received at Baptism are strengthened and affirmed. At ordination a Man becomes a priest through

The Bishop anointing the Altar with Sacred Chrism
The Bishop anointing the Altar with Sacred Chrism

the imposition of hands and calling down of the Holy Spirit. His hands are anointed to bring Christ to the world in the Eucharist as he acts in persona Christi through his ministry.

It is recommended that the Bishop not just pour Sacred Chrism on to anoint the Altar mensa, but that he anoint the entire surface with Chrism, you can see that Bishop Medley uses both hands and reverently

Bishop Medley spreads the Sacred Chrism Oil across the mensa of the Altar.
Bishop Medley spreads the Sacred Chrism Oil across the mensa of the Altar.

smears the Chrism over the entire surface. His hands are so full of Chrism after the anointing that he normally has to wash his hands several times. You can just smell the Chrism in the air, the silence of all those gathered directing their attention to the ritual at hand.

After the Bishop has cleansed his hands of the Chrism and changed back into his chasuble, a brazier or bowl is placed on the Altar, inside of which are several lighted charcoals. He places incense on the charcoals and inside the Thurible, with which he

The brazier (bowl) of Incense symbolizes our prayers rising to the Father.
The brazier (bowl) of Incense symbolizes our prayers rising to the Father.

will incense the Altar. Incense has long been a staple in Catholic Worship as a symbol of the prayers of those gathered ascending to the Father. I couldn’t help as I watched the incense drift upwards, but  to call to mind the Psalmist’s words: “Let my prayer rise like incense before you.” Catholics use incense like our Jewish forefathers did. Thus, like our jewish forefathers who offered sacrifices on altars, so too Catholics offer the one true sacrifice (the death of Christ on the Cross) on our Altars to the Father, through and with Jesus. The Bishop walks all around the Altar, censing it and and showing through the smoke that the Altar is the way in which we lift our prayers and praise to God. He prays:

Lord, may our prayers ascend as incense in your sight. As this building is filled with fragrance so may your Church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ.

After the Incensation of the Altar, the brazier is removed and the Altar top is wiped. This is probably one of the most beautiful and poignant parts of the Mass. As Bishop stated,

Olivia (left) and Emily (right) bow before the freshly consecrated Altar while Deacon Matthew and I look on.
Olivia (left) and Emily (right) bow before the freshly consecrated Altar while Deacon Matthew and I look on.

while sitting down, this part symbolizes the women who came to the tomb to anoint the Body of Our Lord and wrap him in white linen. There was no music for his part of the Mass, the silence, and reverence with which the two girls wiped the altar spoke for itself. My sister, Emily and fellow staff member Olivia Conder volunteered to wipe the Altar off. They came forward and reverently bowed to the Altar, showing that it was consecrated. They were the first really to bow to it, as during the other parts of the Liturgy such as the procession, we did not bow, rather just go to our places in the sanctuary. This made me recall that Mary Magdalene was the first to recognize our Lord after his resurrection from the tomb.

Olivia and Emily wiping the Altar under Deacon Matthew and my instruction. (we had to point out any missed spots)
Olivia and Emily wiping the Altar under Deacon Matthew and my instruction. (we had to point out any missed spots)

She went to the Tomb and saw that it was empty, and after mistaking Jesus for the gardner, recognized him as the Lord. For the two girls to have the opportunity and joy of being able to recognize our Lord’s presence in the Altar had to have been a blessing. Emily and Olivia wiped the mensa (top) and sides of the Altar with such care and reverence. I actually teared up after the Bishop reminded us of what it symbolized and as I watched with what care and devotion the two ladies took as they attended to their task.

I thought back to that early morning Mass in the Tomb of Christ that we were blessed to celebrate on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land and with the silence and reverence that accompanied our Mass then and the Altar dedication now. After the Altar had been

Sam and I vesting the Altar
Sam and I vesting the Altar

thoroughly wiped off, Sam and I placed the White Linen Altar Cloth on it, vesting it for the Eucharistic Prayer to come. I’m excited for when we will get our new Altar Cloth at camp this summer, so that we do not have to use the simple white tablecloths anymore.

After vesting the Altar, or I should rather say: “While,” Mason and Ian came and carried the candlesticks over to the sides of the Altar. They forgot that we would be vesting it,

Ian (left) and Mason (right) place the Candlesticks by the Altar
Ian (left) and Mason (right) place the Candlesticks by the Altar

so they came a little early and were stuck holding them for a time. The candlesticks probably weigh a good 40 pounds  each. I felt sorry for them! Haha!

After the Candlesticks have been placed there comes the ceremonial lighting. The Deacon recieves a lighted candle from the Bishop who instructs him to light the candles that as the light shines from them, so too shall those gathered shine with the light of

Deacon Matthew lights one of the Altar candles.
Deacon Matthew lights one of the Altar candles.

Christ. This part of the ritual reminds us of the Easter Vigil, with Christ the light of the world coming and setting us free from the darkness of sin, releasing us into the marvelous light of his Father’s kingdom.

After the candles are lit, the Mass continues as normal with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Communion, and the final collect and blessing. The final collect (prayer after communion), which collects all of our prayers together and helps draw the Liturgy to a close says:

Keep us, O Lord, ever close to your altar where the Sacrament of sacrifice is celebrated, so that, united in faith and charity, we, who by Christ are nourished, into Christ may be transformed. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

Bishop Medley reminded all of us present that although this Altar is now consecrated, we must never forget that we too are a consecrated people. We are consecrated by and anointed with the same Oil of Sacred Chrism used to consecrate the Altar at our Baptism into the family of God, commissioned as we are anointed at our confirmation to go and preach the good news, the priest’s hands are anointed at ordination to make present the Living mysteries of Christ, and the Bishop’s head is anointed at his ordination to receive the fullness of Holy Orders and be able to consecrate others (including Altars) to a sacred purpose.

One of the things which I am really excited for about the summer is that we got to keep the towels with which we wiped the Sacred Chrism off of the Altar. I plan on cutting them into a few pieces, so that we have one for each week of camp, and then sharing with the campers that week not only about how we dispose of blessed items (Something I think I’ve done for the past 2 summers), but also about the Altar and how we too are a consecrated people. Our universal vocation is to that of holiness. We are called to offer ourselves on the Altars of our lives to God. Sanctifying our work, asking for our Lord to help us, giving ourselves over to the movement of his Holy Spirit. We must never forget that we are consecrated for a purpose, one which might have a rough road, but in the end will be very rewarding. We are a consecrated people. May we always be ready and willing to answer and act for the task for which we have been consecrated. . . Heaven. Amen.

After the Consecration of the Altar
After the Consecration of the Altar
Bishop Medley, preaching during the Mass.
Bishop Medley, preaching during the Mass.
Like the Consecrated Altar, so too are we consecrated for a Sacred Purpose
Like the Consecrated Altar, so too are we consecrated for a Sacred Purpose

The following is the text for the Consecration of an Altar, calling to mind the many Altars throughout human history. How does it help us to see the need to recognize our own consecrated lives?

Father, we praise you and give you thanks, for you have established the sacrament of true worship by bringing to perfection in Christ the mystery of the one true altar prefigured in those many altars of old.

Noah, the second father of the human race, once the waters fell and the mountains peaked again, built an altar in your name. You, Lord, were appeased by his fragrant offering and your rainbow bore witness to a covenant refounded in love.

Abraham, our father in faith, wholeheartedly accepted your word and constructed an altar on which to slay Isaac, his only son. But you, Lord, stayed his hand and provided a ram for his offering.

Moses, mediator of the old law, built an altar on which was cast the blood of the lamb: so prefiguring the altar of the cross. All this Christ has fulfilled in the paschal mystery: as priest and victim he freely mounted the tree of the cross and gave himself to you, Father, as the one perfect oblation. In his sacrifice the new covenant is sealed, in his blood sin is engulfed.

Lord, we therefore stand before you in prayer. Bless this altar built in the house of the Church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand for ever as the Lord’s table, where your people will find nourishment and strength. Make this altar a sign of Christ from whose pierced side flowed blood and water, which ushered in the sacraments of the Church. Make it a table of joy, where the friends of Christ may hasten to cast upon you their burdens and cares and take up their journey restored. Make it a place of communion and peace, so that those who share the body and blood of your Son may be filled with his Spirit and grow in your life of love. Make it a source of unity and friendship, where your people may gather as one to share your spirit of mutual love. Make it the center of our praise and thanksgiving until we arrive at the eternal tabernacle, where, together with Christ, high priest and living altar, we will offer you an everlasting sacrifice of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. R. Amen.

Pictures courtesy of Elizabeth Barnstead via the Diocesan FB page:

Active Participation in the Liturgy: Misunderstood, and Full of Love

Fr. Bob Robeson, Rector of Bishop Bruté, celebrates Mass during Lent.
Fr. Bob Robeson, Rector of Bishop Bruté, celebrates Mass during Lent.

Here is my paper that I wrote for Moral Theology on how the Roman Canon (Euchristic Prayer I) leads us to love how Christ loves. I also discuss how Active Participation (though somewhat misinterpreted after the council) in the Liturgy is most closely related to the Eucharistic Prayer. (A Benedict XVI/Cardinal Ratzinger idea)

I REALLY enjoyed writing this and was very pleased with the “A” grade and how the paper turned out. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Written for Dr. Matthew Sherman’s Fundamental Moral Theology class at Marian University on 4-13-15:

Active Participation in the Eucharistic Prayer leads us to love as Christ loves. 

The life of a Christian is one thirsting for and seeking after truth. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The human person finds his perfection “in seeking and loving what is true and good.”” For Catholic Christians the closest we can get to actual truth is through our faith, especially through our worship in the Mass. The Second Vatican Council Fathers acknowledged this when they called for Active participation in the liturgy by all of the faithful.[1] This important document on the Liturgy known as Sacrosanctum Concilium further calls the Sacred Liturgy the “primary and indispensible source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.”[2] This true Christian Spirit or perfection as Pope Benedict taught is found in loving, specifically through our interaction in the Liturgy, the source of what is true and good.

Pope Benedict XVI, (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) in one of his most famous works discusses the idea of active participation. He says that this was “very quickly misunderstood to mean something external…a need for general activity…as if as many people as possible, as often…should be visibly engaged in action.”[3] He goes on to explain how a deeper study of the sources for this call to active participation in the Liturgy points to the “the Eucharistic Prayer. The real liturgical action, the true liturgical act, is the oratio, the great prayer that forms the core of the Eucharistic celebration…”[4] Through the Eucharistic Prayer in the Mass the Christian people seek the truth (Christ, himself) and learn to love through it.

There are three main types of love, which exist in the Christian life: (1)Agape, (2)Eros, and (3)Philia. Authors of The Christian Moral Life, Patricia Lamoureux and Paul J. Wadell point to Jesuit Father Edward Vacek’s explanation of these three loves as being that “We may love the beloved (1) for the sake of the beloved, (2) for our own sake, or (3) for the sake of a relationship we have with the beloved.”[5]   Taking after Pope Benedict XVI if we look at The Roman Canon, known also as Eucharistic Prayer I, which has remained relatively, unchanged since the 7th century we can see an assortment of the three different types of love, that are present throughout it. These three loves help us to see the role of active participation in the Eucharistic Prayer and the ways in which it has affected different branches of Christianity throughout the centuries.

Fr. Bob, elevates the host in the chapel at the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor during our Holy Land Trip

Agape as Fr. Vacek states is, loving for the sake of the beloved. Many theologians tend to point to this love as being the primary Christian love, made evident through Christ’s sacrificial gift of himself upon the cross. Christ, through loving those in the world gave his life out of love for those whom he loved. One could say that the greatest proof of this love in the Roman Canon would be Christ talking of his sacrifice in the Institution Narrative: “Take this all of you… For this is my body, which will be given up for you.”[6] This total gift of self, of Christ’s body on the cross and then made present at every Mass celebrated demonstrates that way of loving someone so much for the sake of them, that nothing else matters. As Lamoureux and Wadell state, “agape does not require reciprocity.”[7]

Eros is love for our own sake,5 It does not require loving someone or something else for their sake, but rather what brings us joy, pleasure, and comfort. Lamoureux and Wadell go on to explain that Fr. Vacek “emphasizes that even though eros is self-interested, it is not necessarily self-centered because it does involve recognition of another thing’s value or goodness and, in that respect, is genuinely love of the other.”[8] One could argue that eros in the Liturgy could be found in the intercessory side of the prayer. Asking for something, (good) because we desire it and its’ effects in our lives is an example of intercession. The Mass by its’ very nature is as a whole intercessory, that is, it is offered up for the sake of someone. In the Roman Canon we see where the priest prays commemorating the living and offering a specific line of petition to God on their behalf. “For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them…”[9] I would argue that even though the priest is praying these prayers on behalf of the people, this is a moment, where the active participation occurs that Pope Benedict XVI alluded to. The priest says, “or they offer it for themselves”9 This offering up of one’s intentions and prayers with those of the mass is a perfect example of focusing on what is happening and being present and a living part of this living sacrifice. The eros, or love for the sake of oneself is beautifully demonstrated in this way of intercession, asking God to accept this sacrifice for something we desire. So often in our culture we line Eros up with erotic love, and while it is that, the basis for it, is love for the sake of oneself. One could argue that the love with which Christ gave up his life on the cross was as Fr. Vacek states, “love of the other”8 We see in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this love in a sacrificial nature, like Agape. “Even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.”[10] Fr. Vacek also states, “Eros emotionally unites the lover with the beloved and therein affirms the beloved’s value, but does so for the sake of the perfection that accrues to the lover.”[11] Thus, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross not only united him with his bride the church, but through it, and through the words spoken during the Eucharistic prayer, the goal of which Christ died is made present. Christ, through the incarnation in taking on our human flesh restored the sacredness and beauty to the human body that was removed by sin, thus his own physical body perfected with his divinity affirmed those redeemed by his action, as well as uniting him more wholly to his people.

Philia, also known as friendship makes up the third type of love. Lamouroeux and Wadell talk of how “even though we love our friends for their own sake (agape), as well as for the joy and meaning they bring to our lives (eros), more than anything we love the relationship that exists between us and our friends.”[12] This relationship that exists between us and our friends is made evident through the relationship which Christ redeemed with his people through his sacrifice. We see in the Roman Canon an example of this love as the priest prays, “so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.”[13] The relationship with which the people, priest, and Christ have through the celebration of the Eucharistic prayer shows the “perfection” which exists in a philia form of relationship. Thomas Aquinas discusses whether Charity is the form (origin) of all other virtues. He states, “that it is charity which directs the acts of all other virtues to the last end.”[14] Thus, Agape, and eros, point us towards our relationship with the one whom we love for the sake of a relationship.5

Through seeking the truth, man discovers God, and discovers him in the person of Jesus Christ, our beloved. This encounter happens most profoundly through the Sacrifice of the Mass, when those present are united to the one, “true and singular sacrifice”[15] of Christ on the cross. This union which forever bridged the gap between Man and God is renewed each time by those who participate actively in the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass. By seeking him who is true and good, we come to love Him, in a unique way and experience love in all its’ forms. The goal of our attendance and participation at Mass is a life of grace from the Sacraments. This love of Christ present in the Sacraments is brought out through Christ loving us for the sake of us, loving us for the sake of himself, and his human body, and loving us for the sake of the relationship he desires to have with us forever in Heaven. This union with God in the person of Jesus Christ is made present at every Mass. This relationship of lover to the beloved is made present to all who actively participate in the praying of the Eucharistic Prayer, through loving Christ who loved us first.

Fr. Bob and Deacon Cronin, elevate the chalice and host in the Church of the workshop of St. Joseph, Nazareth
Fr. Bob and Deacon Cronin, elevate the chalice and host in the Church of the workshop of St. Joseph, Nazareth

Through our active participation in the prayer, we receive a foretaste of the love which exists in the Kingdom of Heaven for all who lead a moral and virtuous life, a life, which Christ came to call all of us to, a life, which calls us to love ourselves, and others, for the sake of the union to come. For as John says, “I, (Christ) when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”[16]

[1] Paul VI, Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1996), 7.

[2] Ibid. 8.

[3] Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 171.

[4] Ibid. 172.

[5] Lamoureux and Wadell, The Christian Moral Life (New York: Orbis Books, 2010), 194.

[6] Eucharistic Prayer I, The Roman Missal, trans. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 3rd typical ed.. sec. 89 (Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 2011), 639.

[7] Lamoureux and Wadell, The Christian Moral Life (New York: Orbis Books, 2010), 195.

[8] Ibid. 197

[9] Eucharistic Prayer I, The Roman Missal, trans. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 3rd typical ed.. sec. 85 (Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 2011), 636.

[10] Ephesians 5:25 NABRE

[11] Lamoureux and Wadell, The Christian Moral Life (New York: Orbis Books, 2010), 197.

[12] Ibid. 198

[13] Eucharistic Prayer I, The Roman Missal, trans. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 3rd typical ed.. sec. 94 (Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 2011), 641.

[14] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: Question 23 on Charity, (Handout, abridged from NewAdvent.org) 2.

[15] Pius IV, Decretum de sacrificio Missae, (handout prepared by K. Harmon 2015, originally published in 1562) 1.

[16] John 12:32 RSV

Welcome to the World of Catholic Blogging, Patrick!

As per my custom, Welcome to the World of Catholic Blogging Patrick Blenman!

Patrick Blenman, with our new Bruté Athletic shirts
Patrick Blenman, with our new Bruté Athletic shirts

Patrick is a Freshman college seminarian from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio. He’s a twin, with Stephen Blenman, who also happens to be in seminary at Bruté. (They’re fraternal, not identical) Patrick says in his first post, that he hopes to blog about life as a seminarian, his adventures (especially this summer), and a little bit of everything else. He is calling his blog: Christ with me, Christ before me. I might add that that is very fitting as his patron is St. Patrick, of whom the prayer: Breastplate of St. Patrick  comes from. You can listen to a great rendition of this prayer in the hymn: I Bind unto Myself Today. (And, yes. It is an Episcopalian church, but they did well with the hymn. Ignore the women priest’s… ;))

Welcome again Paddy! We’ll see how long you can stick it out! 🙂 You’ll find his blog and a host of other great blogs by brother seminarians on the right side of my page. Over here —>

Check out his blog below, after the jump!


First Podcast – Restless4Him :: New Podcast Starting

We had a podcast going at the seminary a few years ago, we’re going to see about starting a new one. Check out this first podcast and let me know what you think. What would you like to hear? Who would you like to hear on the podcast? How long of a podcast would you like to listen to?In future episodes I will hopefully be joined by the Trummer brothers from the Diocese of Springfield and hopefully later we will be joined by some others at the seminary. Check out the first podcast below, as well as the image we are considering using (still in the works). We probably won’t get really off of the ground until next school year but we will see what happens between now and then.

Website is not up yet, but if we get this going, we will look into using it.
Website is not up yet, but if we get this going, we will look into using it.

How Make a Wish and a Bishop helped an 11 year old boy be a “priest for a day.”

Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson
Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson

Reposted from: http://stlouisreview.com/article/2015-04-02/priest-day-wish-came

Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches.

When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of south St. Louis County to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all.

“He didn’t want anything,” explained his mother, Eileen. “They had to keep asking him, ‘What would you like to do? Do you want to meet anybody? What do you want to be when you grow up?'”

The answer to the last question became part of his wish — what Make-A-Wish calls “wish enhancement” to complement the main wish. The sixth-grader at St. Mark School wants to be a priest, a doctor or an engineer, in that order.

Priest was No. 1

“I said, ‘I really want to be a priest,'” he said.

So, on Holy Thursday, at the invitation of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as “Priest For a Day.”

Brett served not one but two Masses — the Chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper — and held the book for Archbishop Carlson for prayers after the homilies. At the evening Mass, he was with 11 seminarians having their feet washed by Archbishop Carlson, and his parents brought up the gifts of bread and wine.

He also joined Archbishop Carlson for two meals; a luncheon with archdiocesan priests and deacons after the Chrism Mass and a dinner with seminarians at the archbishop’s residence before the evening Mass.

Best of all, he wore a collar provided by a seminarian from Kenrick-Glennon.

As for his favorite part of the entire day, Brett was unequivocal in his answer.

“The whole thing,” he said as he waited for his dad, Conrad, near the Cathedral Basilica sanctuary with his mom and older sister Olivia after the Chrism Mass. “It was really neat for them to let me do this stuff.”

And cool, too — a term he used often in describing the day.

“Just a really cool experience,” he said.

His actual wish is cool, too.

“Eating mangoes on a beach,” his mother said.

That trip will come later. His interim “priest-for-a-day” request didn’t surprise his family.

“For years, he has loved the Mass and been religious,” said Eileen Haubrich, a graduate of Notre Dame High School. “He has such a good heart. He’s a very caring boy.”

The second of Eileen and Conrad’s four children and oldest of two sons, Brett has served at his school church and at his parish, St. Martin of Tours, which is visible from the back door of his house only a short walk away.

He digs the smell of incense burning in the thurible, enjoys confession and likes “communion, and the songs, too.”

Communion — the Eucharist, the living presence of Jesus Christ — stands out.

“I like receiving the Body and the Blood,” he said, simply

Brett and his family told several priests about his request, and they offered several options – like shadowing one, spending the night at a rectory with his dad or serving a Saturday morning Mass at the New Cathedral.

The latter request was made of Father Nick Smith, the Master of Ceremonies at the Cathedral Basilica. His initial response was “no way,” followed quickly by “we can do way better than that.”

Sure enough, they did.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we have him come down for Holy Thursday? He can serve the Chrism Mass — it’s a Mass for priests — and that night mass is always about the Eucharist,'” Father Smith said, repeating the two main aspects of the Masses that fit Brett. “Priests and Eucharist.”

Archbishop Carlson also played a big role. During the initial phone call about Brett’s request, he actually was with Father Smith in the Cathedral sacristy getting ready for his Lenten reflection

“It just so happened he was standing right next to me,” said Father Smith, who described Archbishop Carlson as “very excited. He was throwing out ideas right and left, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that.'”

Archbishop Carlson came up with ideas of the seminarians dinner and of the foot washing.

“He said, ‘Put him in there; we’ll wash his foot,'” Father Smith said, with a laugh. “Before you knew it, it turned into a whole day.”

Father Smith prepared an itinerary and delivered it in person along with a letter signed by Archbishop Carlson asking for Brett’s help at the Masses.

“I handed it to him, and when he got to the first line, ‘I’m making you a priest for a day,’ his eyes got as big as half-dollars,” Father Smith said.

Brett admitted to being a little nervous heading into Holy Thursday, but the events went off like clockwork. Wearing the collar, Brett processed down the center aisle at the New Cathedral with priests, deacons and seminarians at the Chrism Mass — at which Archbishop Carlson blessed the oils to be used throughout the archdiocese for sacraments for the next year — and took his spot near the altar.

He performed flawlessly.

“He did pretty well,” Archbishop Carlson said.

See more photos from his adventure here: http://stlouisreview.photoshelter.com/embed?type=slideshow&G_ID=G0000NHpmvWiCF1w#!/slideshow/I0000LbhITXvu2SI/null 

Pretty cool eh?!? What can you do to inspire vocations and help instill a love of the Mass, Liturgy, Christ, and his church in our youth? How can we help others to join us in walking this Way of Beauty even closer?

The flower of Jesse will blossom! :: Reflections on praying about my vocation at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

“A shoot will spring forth from the stock of Jesse, and a flower will blossom from his root. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him!

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. This feast is one of my favorites especially since my pilgrimage to the Holy Land last December. One of my 3 favorite locations that we got to visit was the Basilica of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The church even though it is quite modern is very traditional through the way in which it teaches the faith and teaches about the Annunciation.

I think that the first place to start is to go from the top down of the Basilica. The dome is made to look like a giant Lilly bud which is turned upside down, showing that it is coming down from Heaven. The Lilly is an ancient symbol for our Blessed Mother. One of my favorite Springtime flowers is the Lilly of the Valley which grows outside our house. I have many memories of bringing back tubs to my Grandmother’s house and taking sections of her Lilly of the Valley back to Kentucky with us each year. My dog Maggie, much to my mother and I’s dismay LOVED to dig the root-bulb systems up. It is such a sweet and pungent scent and we use them to decorate our May altar each year. Here at Bishop Bruté, the sisters planted them everywhere. So I am VERY happy!10858516_10205530775565656_285478047220799284_nThe story of the Annunciation is from Luke 1:26-38:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
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The Cave where Mary gave her Fiat
Being in the place where Mary gave her “fiat,” her “yes” to God gave me such immense joy. I remember walking into the lower church where the Cave of the Annunciation is and just kneeling there crying. It was so immensely beautiful and peaceful. Being in seminary I spend a lot of time in prayer asking the Lord where he wants me to go. What he wants me to do with my life. Specifically if he is calling me to become a priest and bring his mysteries to Earth through the Sacraments. Kneeling there, praying the rosary I renewed my consecration to Mary through her Immaculate Heart. I asked her to draw me closer into her heart so that I could be closer to her son.
Inside of the dome of the Basilica. (Lilly)
Inside of the dome of the Basilica. (Lilly)
At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary gave her “yes” and the Holy Spirit came upon her, thus Christ was conceived in her womb. I asked Mary, who was the first tabernacle to draw me into her womb as Christ was there, that I could be closer to him and be able to let him work through me in my life.
The upper church at the Basilica of the Annunciation
The upper church at the Basilica of the Annunciation
When we arrived at the Basilica after celebrating Sunday Mass at the Church of St. Joseph next door (Another amazing church) we came to the Basilica to pray the Noon Angelus. You can find the video below. I was quite sad that I wasn’t able to capture the organ beforehand. It was BEAUTIFUL!

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The front of the Basilica of the Annunciation Front entrance. (Lower church)

On the front of the Basilica it reads: “Verbum Caro Factum Est Et Habitavit In Nobis” (The Word of God was made flesh and made his dwelling upon us) The Altar in the lower church reads: “Verbo Caro Hic Factum Est” (Here, the Word was made flesh)

This is one of my favorite feasts because it is the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the Incarnation, a mystery and beautiful gift. For God so loved the world that he sent his only son to dwell among us, to sacrifice and die a horrible and excruciating painful death on the cross. What an amazing God we have! He loves us so much that even though we sin and turn away from him he always calls us back.


On this great solemnity of the Annunciation I humbly ask that you pray for me, as I continue to discern the Lord’s will in my life. May the Holy Spirit guide me and may the Blessed Mother continue to draw me closer to her Son, so that when the moment is right, when he asks me to do what he desires of me, that I may give him my “yes” unreservedly and with full trust in his infinite mercy. Pray Lord, may it be so!

The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation
The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation

See my blogpost on our adventures in Nazareth at our blog from the trip: “We give our yes with Mary!” https://holylandtrip2014.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/we-give-our-yes-with-mary/ 

May God bring this good Seed he has planted to fruit and fulfillment!

O Mary, who gave your Fiat, help us to give our Yes to Christ when he asks it of us. Amen.

Pastoral Sensitivity and the Salvation of Souls :: Quote post


In our Theology of the Mass class we have been discussing the changes brought about over time in our understanding of the Mass. How the Rites have developed and we are now discussing chanfes from the Second Vatican Council and the differences in dogma, doctrine, and the like. Through our discussions before and after class I have been constantly reminded of the need for pastoral sensitivity. (Comes from Sacrosanctum Concilium and other documents.) I saw this quote the other day from Canon Law and found that  it fits well. The whole purpose of everything we do as a church, as ministers of the Church and Christ, and as bearers of the Gospel must always be for the salvation of souls.

the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.” [Canon Law # 1752]

The Supreme Law of the Catholic Church is the “Salvation of souls.” That is the first objective. This Supreme Law concerns the clergy, the religious brothers and sisters, the faithful members of the Church and those who have yet to be converted. No one is excluded.

And as my former pastor Father Baker always stated: “The only important thing in life is going to Heaven. In the end nothing else matters.”