January 2013

Only Tony Stieritz’s archdiocesan Catholic Social Action office would see fit to invite a leftwing radical identified as one of “The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America” to lecture at a conference on the “family.” Dr. Mark Ensalaco, director of the University of Dayton’s Human Rights program, will address the theme “solidarity with the whole human family” at the Cords of Kindness, Ties of Love conference this Saturday, Feb. 2, in Dayton. Ensalaco was included in David Horowitz’s 2007 book The Professors for his defenses of Latin American communists and his apologies for Islamist terrorism. He was also the focus of a 2005 expose by Mr. Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com website.

You may send a respectful letter of concern to His Excellency Dennis M. Schnurr here.

Cincinnati’s Catholic Beat online newspaper picks up the story of the new Year of Faith initiative sponsored by the Salve Regina council of the Knights of Columbus. Your host and brother knight is helping coordinate the effort. Please join us.

Cincinnati’s newest Knight of Columbus Council is sponsoring at Year of Faith study series this spring.

The Salve Regina Council of the Knights of Columbus, which serves St. Mary parish in Hyde Park (OH) and St. Rose parish in the East End (OH), will present the K of C’s “What Catholics Believe” catechetical program on the first Tuesday of each month beginning Feb. 5.

Fr. Martin Fox, pastor of St. Rose and Director of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, will lead the study. Fr. Fox says people of all ages and from any parish are welcome.

“While this is a great opportunity for adults to grow in their faith, I’ll be glad to have parents bring their kids to be part of it,” he says. “I’m hoping we can get some talk going that’ll make it interesting to all.”

The program based on a series of booklets by Luke H. Hart, which explain Catholic theology and practices in colloquial and contemporary language. The booklets, and those for two additional series (“How Catholics Worship” and “How Catholics Live”) can be read at the Knights of Columbus website, where they are also available as audio files.

The presentations at St. Rose will be from 7 to 8:15 pm on Feb. 5th, March 5th, April 2nd, May 7th, and June 4th. For information, call the parish at (513) 871-1162.

For a video introduction to the program, click here.

Do you remember when the former editorial staff of the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati would run the confusing, tortuous Q&A columns by the late Fr. John Dietzen?

(Refresh your memory here.)

Thankfully, those days are gone, and we can be grateful for a new Q&A column, “A Question of Faith,” by Fr. Earl Fernandes, dean of academics at Mount St. Mary of the West seminary.

The inaugural column is on the much-debated and “controverisal” topic of music in the liturgy, and he offers a response that is both faithful to Church teaching and, in the best sense of the word, pastoral. Here’s a snippet:

While some liturgical theologians would say that the whole liturgical assembly should be singing together and praying together as an outward sign of unity, church teaching on the liturgy speaks of active participation, not only as external participation, but also as interior participation. The real issue is whether the liturgical celebration is helping the faithful to achieve this deeper union with God and with each other.

One means of helping the faithful experience this deeper communion is music. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 87) gives four options for the Communion chant, which indicates the sense of sobriety of the Roman liturgy: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons approved by the bishops conference or the bishop; or (4) a suitable liturgical song, either sung by the choir or with the people.

From the Instruction, the church’s preference for chant and the use of the antiphons and psalms for the liturgical season appears. Unfortunately, in many parishes option four is used exclusively and much of the beautiful music from the church’s liturgical tradition has been neglected. One must also acknowledge the dearth of well-trained liturgical ministers and how it would be difficult to sing some of the chants, antiphons and graduals without proper training.

Loud and intrusive. What is loud and intrusive is somewhat subjective. For example, there were many beautiful liturgical pieces that had entered the Roman liturgy prior to the liturgical reforms of St. Pius X at the start of the 20th century. While these were beautiful, they often prolonged the liturgy and made the faithful spectators at the liturgy. Thus, Pius X wished to restore participation in the liturgy to the faithful encouraging the singing of Gregorian chant, which continues to hold pride of place in the Roman Church. In Sacramentum Caritatis (n. 42) Pope Benedict comments: “In the course of her 2,000 year history, the church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to represent the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided.”

Happy feast day to one of my patrons — enjoy.

Over at Cleansing Fire, a terrific group blog focused on the goings-on of my home diocese of Rochester, Ben Anderson informs us of a new project which archives all of the issues of the local Catholic Courier back to 1889. A quick search of my surname this weekend uncovered some fascinating tidbits. The first is my mother and father’s wedding notice from 1966. The groomsmen and bridesmaids were near-constant figures in my childhood. Next up is news of my first major fight in the Aquinas Institute Mission Bouts of 1983, a life-changing moment. Lastly, there is mention of my nomination to the Naval Academy in 1986. As things turned out, I “qualified,” which meant I had a 70% chance of admission. They then asked me to attend a prep school to get a stronger math background, and that was the end of that. Coincidentally, my oldest son, Benedict, won his first fight over the weekend at the Cincinnati High School Boxing tournament (he and his fellow fighters take on AQ on Feb. 9). Watch it below; he’s in red.

What is it about the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on the liturgical calendar last Sunday, that gets the speculative juices flowing in liberal exegetes?

I recall as a volunteer in the RCIA being told that Jesus’ Baptism created an “awareness” in Him that He was “graced by God” or some such thing.

Last weekend’s homily by Kenneth Overberg, S.J., at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel gives us another example.

We are told that His Baptism gives “him a deepening sense of being God’s ‘beloved,’ called to live and proclaim Abba God’s loving presence, the Reign of God.”

Later, Overberg tells us it had the effect of “deepening his sense of God’s loving and faithful presence, stirring Jesus’ imagination about how to live life.”

Yet paragraph 105 of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us the purpose of Jesus’s Baptism is “to inaugurate his public life and to anticipate the ‘Baptism’ of his death.” In no way are we taught that He came to a greater understanding of His identity or a “stirring” of His imagination. (Ditto for the pertinent sections of the CCC.) The Lord’s Baptism is a revelation for us, not Him!

What gives?

“We’ve been spending a lot of time on Martin Luther King at (our parish) school.”

“Have you? What do you mean by ‘a lot of time’?”

“We’ve been singing songs, reading about his life, studying his speech — we’re going to write poems next.”

“That is a lot of time.”

“Is there anything … wrong with that?”

“There’s nothing wrong with spending time learning about Martin Luther King — he made important contributions to our country. That seems excessive, though.”

“But he was a Christian, right?”

“Yes, but he’s generally celebrated as a secular figure, and Martin Luther King Day is a secular holiday. If they’re having you spend that much time on MLK, then you should spend three times as much studying, say, St. Joseph.”

The video shows an excavator knocking down my grade school, Ss. Peter and Paul in Norwood, just a few weeks ago.  Sad, sad, sad.  Four Murray boys went through there in the 20s and 30s, and two more in the 60s and 70s.  The frieze over the arches on the front porch read “Pro Deo et Patria,” and that was what we were taught.  The view here is from the back, on the paved playground, looking up the hill, roughly to the east.

I can’t get too nostalgic about the place–but I do still dream about running through the halls and down the stairs every once in a while.  When I started there in 1965 there were about 250 kids.  The school itself after the usual mergers and closings moved out to St. John in Deer Park, and since moved to Sacred Heart in Reading.  The grand tour of blue collar suburbs.  I wonder where all the Catholics went.

The building to the left of the school in the video is the former Mt. St. Mary’s seminary.  From that side of the seminary, Cardinal Pacelli spoke to the interested in fall 1936.  My dad was there.

The school building was plain brown brick, with some Italian Renaissance ornamentation.  I think it deserved a better end, but a school without students can’t be a school.

Lord Grantham, just now on Downton Abbey:

“I don’t want thumbscrews or the rack, but there always seems to be something Johnny foreigner about the Catholics.”

Fr. Martin Fox, the Director of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Parochial Vicar for St. Rose of Lima church, announces a great new Year-of-Faith initiative for Cincinnati’s East-side Catholics:

Year of Your Faith Flyer

We’ll be using the Luke E. Hart Series from the Knights of Columbus, an adaptation of Peter Kreeft’s masterful overview of the Catechism, Catholic Christianity. The ten chapters of part one, “What Catholics Believe,” cover the Creed, i.e., Faith, and we’ll review two chapters per session for five months. If you live nearby, join us.

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