Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Auxillary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be visiting the Cincinnati Archdiocese and confirming 31 Confirmandi at Holy Family Church Dayton, Ohio on Saturday, the 29th of March at 10 AM. There will be a luncheon in the basement of the church immediately following the Confirmation.

As a US prelate, Bishop Perry has developed a reputation for leading by example in his support for a more faithful and sacred celebration of the liturgy (here). He recently visited the Athenium in 2013 (here and here).

For a quick example of the Bishop’s teaching and style, here is a brief talk His Excellency gave in 2012 on Men and the Mass.

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, known to Italian-Americans as St. Joseph’s Day. The day’s open-house celebrations, featuring tables of traditional Italian food and scores of cousins, were a staple of my youth in Rochester, New York. Here’s Fisheaters with some background:

St. Joseph’s Day is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph’s intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom is for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

Today, after Mass (at least in parishes with large Italian populations), a big altar (“la tavola di San Giuse” or “St. Joseph’s Table”) is laden with food contributed by everyone (note that all these St. Joseph celebrations might take place on the nearest, most convenient weekend). Different Italian regions celebrate this day differently, but all involve special meatless foods: minestrone, pasta with breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered St. Joseph’s floor), seafood, Sfinge di San Giuseppe, and, always, fava beans, which are considered “lucky” because during the drought, the fava thrived while other crops failed (recipes below).

The table — which is always blessed by a priest — will be in three tiers, symbolizing the Most Holy Trinity. The top tier will hold a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery. The other tiers might hold, in addition to the food: flowers (especially lilies); candles; figurines and symbolic breads and pastries shaped like a monstrance, chalices, fishes, doves, baskets, St. Joseph’s staff, lilies, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, carpentry tools, etc.; 12 fishes symbolizing the 12 Apostles; wine symbolizing the miracle at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; lemons for “luck”; bread and wine (symbolizing the Last Supper); and pictures of the dead. There will also be a basket in which the faithful place prayer petitions.

And here’s your host in a 2005 piece for Catholic Exchange:

Coming two days after the more widely — and raucously — celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, Italian families would honor the patron saint of workers and the protector of the family by laying out “tables” of sweets, breads and greens. On a nearby credenza always stood a statue of St. Joseph, the child Jesus in one hand and a lily in the other.

The lily detail has a fascinating history. In the Protevangelium, an apocryphal gospel attributed to St. James, an angel reportedly requested that all the walking sticks of eligible widowers in greater Jerusalem be collected and brought to the Temple. Joseph’s staff burst into flowers, just as Aaron’s did in the Old Testament, signaling that he was to be Mary’s groom. Statues of St. Joseph have included lilies ever since.

St. Joseph’s Day itself was like an open house, with family and friends dropping by my grandmother Nani’s, Aunt Mary’s or mother’s house, grabbing a bite to eat and coming and going as they pleased. Ideally, the parish priest would kick things off with a prayer to bless the table.

All this saintly celebrating so close to St. Patrick’s Day didn’t always sit well with my Irish friends. It was as though the Italians were encroaching on their calendared turf. In reality, though, St. Joseph’s Day has been celebrated in the US for decades by families with roots in the old country, especially Sicily.

The Cincinnati Enquirer runs a story in this morning’s edition on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new requirement that teachers assent to Church doctrine via the new contract. Your host is quoted. Kudos to Archbishop Schnurr for taking a bold stand. Here’s a snippet:

The contract for the 2014-15 school year explicitly orders teachers to refrain “from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.” It goes so far as to ban public support of the practices.

Principals in the 94 Archdiocese-supervised schools in Southwest and Central Ohio began receiving the new employment agreements Thursday. More than 2,200 Greater Cincinnati parochial teachers will be affected by the new contract, the Archdiocese estimates.

High-profile teacher lawsuits and controversies at Greater Cincinnati area Catholic schools in recent years have, at least in part, led to the larger, more detailed contract, Archdiocese officials said.

Under the new contract, teachers are expressly prohibited from: “improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside of marriage; public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock; public support of/or homosexual lifestyle; public support of/or use of abortion; public support of/or use of a surrogate mother; public support or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination.”

Read related posts here, here, and here.

Update, 8 March 2014: Enquirer reporter Michael D. Clark pens a follow up piece on the popularity of the new contract with parents.

Or, more precisely in one instance, heresy.

Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel releases the schedule for its Lenten series of speakers, beginning with Brennan Hill, co-author of a notorious book and video series on the Catechism that aimed to muddle its doctrines shortly after its release, on “The World of Jesus: Son of Joseph and Mary, Son of God,” and featuring Ken Overberg, S.J. on — wait for it — “The Life and Death of Jesus: An Alternative to Atonement Theology.” Because what better way to prepare yourself for the paschal mystery than by denying Christ’s salvific action on the cross?

By contrast, nearby St. Mary of Hyde Park and St. Cecilia (of Oakley) release their rock-solid lineups here and here, respectively. St. Mary’s lineup is especially encouraging; not so long ago its Lenten series was downright Bellarminesque.

1. Mandate, with dubious liceity, that all parishes play a recording of the Archbishop’s CMA pitch in place of the homily on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, i.e., this morning.
2. Have the Archbishop refer three times on the recording to the embarrassing, misplaced 70s mantra of “being Church.”
3. Sync the recording to last Sunday’s readings.
4. Wonder why priests and parishioners greet the advent of the annual CMA like a visit from the IRS or a trip to the dentist.

It’s hard to believe, but a year ago yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI abdicated. A staff report from the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati marks the anniversary:

“The resignation did three things,” said Steve Trosley, editor and chief of The Catholic Telegraph. “First, it created a huge amount of interest in the church and its governance — and demonstrated how much the Roman Catholic Church matters in the world. Secondly, it demonstrated that the media including many Catholics do not have a thorough grasp of how the church operates. This event gave us all valuable insights. Finally, it gave us an opportunity to understand the challenges and intricacies of the papacy and the curia.”

Last week, Ottawa archbishop Terrence Prendergast made news for announcing that he would enforce — or at least remind his flock of — the Church’s exclusion of eulogies during funeral Masses, i.e., Masses of Christian Burial, remarking, “We gather not to praise the deceased, but to pray for them.” This has long been a favorite topic of mine and was the subject of a piece I wrote for Catholic Exchange in 2007 shortly after my father died. Archbishop Prendergast has a kindred spirit here in Cincinnati, as St. Cecilia’s Fr. Jamie Weber draws a bright line around eulogies in the parish’s published “Guidelines for Christian Burial“:

The eulogy is not part of the Mass of Christian Burial. Eulogies by family members or friends are encouraged at the viewing and at the cemetery. One Eulogy by a family member or friend is permitted 5 minutes prior to the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Cecilia; no exceptions.

St. Cecilia’s guidelines also remind parishioners that the Church’s teaching on cremation isn’t as permissive as some make it out to be:

Through the centuries, the Church has followed the practice of burial or entombment after the manner of Christ’s own burial. This expresses respect for the human body as a member of Christ and faith in the resurrection of the body. “The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching” (canon 1176, § 3).

It is the priest’s responsibility to verify the proper motivation and to determine that those arranging for the funeral have made satisfactory provision for the cremated remains, preferably in a Catholic cemetery. When these required conditions are met, the various elements of the Catholic funeral rite are conducted in the usual way. The body of the deceased should be present for the Funeral Mass. The respect that the Church has for the bodies of the deceased should also be evident in the way cremated remains are treated before burial.

Kudos to Fr. Weber and Archbishop Prendergast for taking strong stands on important topics.

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