August 2014

Remember that eye-roll-inducing “Liturgical Assessment Tool” issued by the Worship office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (that has now curiously disappeared from the archdiocesan website)?  It asked parishes questions about how they celebrated Mass that were reflective of the local hermeneutic of rupture, e.g., the number of “lay ministers” at Mass, whether most parishioners receive from the cup, whether the music repertoire “reflects the variety of styles.”  Fr. Martin Fox, newly appointed as pastor over St. Remy parish in Russia, Ohio, has put together a 44-question assessment tool rooted in a hermeneutic of continuity and the specific directives of Vatican II and the Holy See.  Excerpted below is the section on fidelity to the norms.  How does your parish measure up?

  1. Is everything in the sacred liturgy carried out in accordance with norms set by the Holy See and the bishop – as opposed to what may arise from a particular priest’s preferences, or those of parishioners, either individually or by group?16

  2. Do all – including the priest – refrain from ever adding, removing, or changing anything in the liturgy on his or her own authority?17

  3. If there have been liturgical “adaptations” in your parish, have they been approved by either the Holy See, the bishop or conference of bishops?18

  4. Does the parish celebration of the liturgy reflect visible unity with the bishop?19

  5. Is the homily always given by an ordained minister and never a layperson?20

  6. Is Holy Mass never celebrated outside the church or chapel without the bishop’s permission?21

  7. Is the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion truly out of necessity, rather than convenience; is it “provisional” rather than ordinary?22

In an essay themed “Catholic identity” in the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati, we learn that the archdiocesan Social Action office teamed up with the CCHD to teach a classroom of 8th-graders that immigrants are … human beings.  Here’s a snippet:

When their Spanish teacher, Julie Lasso-Rose, began to talk to them about immigrants and introduced them to articles that presented immigrants in a different, more compassionate view, they thought she was, in their own words, “crazy.” In a PowerPoint presentation they produced, titled “Illegals,” their attitudes initially towards immigrants were negative. Immigrants were:  “breaking the law, alcoholics, lazy, aren’t educated, don’t pay taxes, and just here to take our jobs.”

Under Lasso-Rose’s leadership and the encouragement of their Father Tom DiFolco, pastor, and Shelly Kahny, principal, they began to learn more about who these strangers are. Father DiFolco set up an opportunity for them to visit St. Leo the Great Parish in North Fairmount where they met immigrants from Guatemala. They also visited the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center where they met young immigrants who are a part of a CCHD (Catholic Campaign for Human Development) funded project called Youth Educating Society (YES). Then, all of their myths and stereotypes about immigrants slowly began to fade away.

FYI, the preferred Moslem dialogue partner of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the bishops conference just held a rally during which participants chanted the slogans “We are Hamas!” and “We are Jihad!”  

But they too “adore the one, merciful God,” so it’s okay.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is discouraging its employees from taking the ice bucket challenge for the ALS Association over the group’s embrace of embryonic stem cell research.  Instead, would-be bucketeers should send donations to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute.  Here’s a snippet from the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s story:

“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this,” Andriacco said. “But it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”

An embryo must be destroyed to harvest its stem cells, Andriacco said. Many Catholics relate that to abortion.

The Archdiocese asks that any money raised is sent instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where the research is only conducted using adult stem cells.

Rigg and Tom Otten, principal of Elder High School, plan to take the ice-bucket challenge — for the research institute — Thursday morning at Elder, Andriacco said.


The Archdiocese of Cincinnati releases a helpful FAQ to explain the decision:

What’s the problem with donating to the ALS Association?
Though the ALS Association does many good works towards the goal or treating and hopefully one day curing ALS, one of the methods they support is embryonic stem cell research. Catholic blogger and priest Father Michael Duffyreported that an email from the ALS Association to the Life League showed ALSA supports embryonic stem cell research.

The Archdiocese is not dissuading individual Catholics from making donations, but they are encouraged to be fully informed and make their own prudential judgments.The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has determined that its Catholic schools will not, as organizations, donate to that particular charity.

To quote St. John Paul II, “Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based upon the destruction of human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction.”

What could Catholics do instead?
Raising awareness for diseases and ethical research for patient care and potential cures is a good thing and there’s no reason Catholic’s can’t participate. The key is making sure any donations, of challenges issued for others to donate, are directed toward places that participate in licit, morally responsible research.

An alternative to the ALS Association is the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Though the institute is a secular non-profit, it chose to honor the late pope in its name to show its commitment to supporting a culture of life. The JP2MRI wrote on Twitter Aug. 20, “Over the past 5 days – The Institute has received 350 donations for $15,000 dollars. Thank you.”

Learn more about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute here.

Today is the feast day for St. Helena, popularly known for being the emperor Constantine’s mother and the discoverer of the true cross.  Catholic literary convert Evelyn Waugh wrote a short novelized biography of her that he used to say was his favorite work and one he read to his children.  When I first read it eight years ago, I assembled a couple of posts with excerpts for my old blog, which you can find here and here.  The first concerns the “diversity” (a word at which Waugh would have shuddered) of the universal Church:

There was an echo from the old empty world. There was no hate in her now and nothing round her was quite profane. She could not dispense with her guard but she mitigated their roughness, and always her heart was beyond them, over their big shoulders, in the crowd. When she first heard Mass at the Lateran basilica — as she often did in preference to her private chapel — she went without ostentation and stood simply in the congregation. She was in Rome as a pilgrim and she was surrounded by friends.

There was no way of telling them. There was nothing in their faces. A Thracian or a Teuton might stop a fellow countryman in the streets, embrace him, and speak of home in his own language. Not so Helena and the Christians. The intimate family circle of which she was a member bore no mark of kinship. The barrow man grilling his garlic sausages in the gutter, the fuller behind his reeking public pots, the lawyer or the lawyer’s clerk might each and all be one with the empress dowager in the Mystical Body. And the abounding heathen might in any hour become one with them. There was no mob, only a vast multitude of souls, clothed in a vast variety of body, milling about in the Holy City, in the See of Peter.

The second is on the historicity and solidity of our religion’s founding:

There was a further pause; then in clear, schoolroom tone, Helena said: “What I should like to know is: When and where did all this happen? And how do you know?”

Minervina frowned. Marcias [a gnostic mystogogue] replied: “These things are beyond time and space. Their truth is integral to their proposition and by nature transcends material proof.”

“Then, please, how do you know?”

“By a lifetime of patient study, your Majesty.”

“But study of what?”

“… Tell me Lactantius [a Catholic], this god of yours. If I asked you when and where he could be seen, what would you say?”

“I should say that as a man he died 278 years ago in the town now called Aelia Capitolina in Palestine.”

“Well, that’s a straight answer anyway. How do you know?”

“We have the accounts written by witnesses. Besides that there is the living memory of the church. We have knowledge handed down from father to son, invisible places marked by memory — the cave where he was born, the tomb where his body was laid, the grave of Peter.”

“Today’s gospel, then, offers insight into Jesus’ identity. Similarly, his conversation with the terrified disciples: ‘It is I’ can also be translated ‘I am’—the divine name. We can say Jesus is God, or we can tell a much more engaging story!”

— Ken Overberg, S.J., in his latest gloss on the Gospel for the students and parishioners at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel.  Welcome back to school, Musketeers!

We dropped off our oldest child at college last weekend, and, as heartbreaking as it was (I guess I didn’t get the memo about what a gut-punch that milestone is), one of the things that gives us comfort is the Catholic student organization at Auburn University.  It is a beehive of authentically Catholic activity, with frequent access to the sacraments via their close partnership with nearby St. Michael the Archangel parish, hours for adoration, numerous speakers on a variety of topics, and plenty of opportunities for fellowship with other Catholic students.  There is also an energetic FOCUS missionary on campus we met through a family connection.  Here’s the postcard from the campus ministry team that arrived with today’s mail:


Our second child has his eye on Georgia Tech, so we visited its sprawling campus in downtown Atlanta on the way home.  GT’s Catholic Center is very impressive, offering daily Mass and almost daily Confession at the Center’s chapel.  And like Auburn, they sponsor numerous catechetical programs and opportunities for fellowship.  Interestingly, the campus hosts one of the few Knights of Columbus college councils.  If my kids are intent on heading south for school, at least they’ll have opportunities to grow in the Faith.

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