May 2015

I will believe the environmentalists of organizations like the Catholic Climate Covenant give a rat’s hind-end about “poor people” when they stop measuring them — and the rest of us — via the obnoxious, anti-life yardstick of a “carbon footprint.”

As a prelude to the encyclical, Xavier University invited Cincinnati native Daniel J. Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington, D.C., to speak in March about the pope’s commitment to the environment.

Environmental concern “is part of what it means to be Catholic and part of what it means to take care of God’s creation,” Misleh said in an interview following his address to about 70 attendees at his alma mater. “The difference between us and some environmental organization is that we believe this is about both people and the planet.”

Often environmental organizations focus much of their work on the planet. “We’re saying this is both about creation and people and especially about poor people because they are the ones who are affected and suffer the worst consequences of environmental degradation and climate change,” Misleh said.

The new June issue of the print edition of the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati features a letter from His Excellency Dennis M. Schnurr urging his flock to participate in the fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom. And we should. There’s an ominous feeling in the air right now among serious Catholics. Participating in an event like this one can help us experience the solidarity that goes with being a member of the Body of Christ. My family and I were privileged to assist at the Closing Mass for 2013’s Fortnight at the Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Here’s an excerpt from Archbishop Schnurr’s letter with some practical ideas:

And now a new concern has arisen. During oral arguments last month before the U.S. Supreme Court on cases related to same-sex marriage, Justice Samuel Alito asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrill Jr., arguing for same-sex couples, whether a university or college opposing same-sex marriage could lose its tax-exempt status. Mr. Verrill replied that “it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.” If Catholic institutions lose their tax-exempt status, that will greatly reduce their ability to bear witness to the Gospel through the corporal works of mercy.

So what can you do to observe the Fortnight for Freedom?

 Stay informed. Go to and click on “Preserve Religious Freedom” on the lower right. There you will find up-to-date information and links to the USCCB website.
 Answer the “Call to Prayer for Life for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty” from the USCCB. The “Call to Prayer” asks that Catholics celebrate Eucharistic holy hours monthly, pray the rosary daily, fast, and abstain from meat on Fridays. There is a Facebook Page at
 In addition, during the Fortnight, attend any special prayer opportunities available in your parish, and participate in Mass on July 4, the culmination of the Fortnight. Prayer is powerful!
 Display the Preserve Religious Freedom yard sign. You may have one from previous years. If not, a limited number will be available through The Catholic Telegraph at a price of two for $1. Although shipping cannot be offered, the CT will arrange pickup points in both Dayton and Cincinnati for those interested. …

Ten years after their publication, is anyone using the USCCB’s United States Catholic Catechism for Adults and the Holy See’s Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Both were released to much fanfare, especially the former, but I don’t hear much about them now. I led studies using both four or five years ago, but I profess to mostly using them for personal reading now.

The USCCB released the adult catechism in a free online version, which is very useful.

Both are also available in Kindle and e-reader versions (see here and here).

Again, is anyone using these resources, either personally or through group study?

That’s the best way to describe Catholic organizations getting involved in Protestant praise & worship events like next weekend’s “Outpouring” at Cincinnati gardens.

Contrived, emotive paraliturgies have never been our thing, nor should they be.

My second son and I were in Columbus for a lacrosse tournament this weekend and visited one of our old parishes for the first time since we moved to Cincinnati fourteen(!) years ago. It was mostly as I remembered it: a pretty church filled with nice people being fed anodyne platitudes. The deacon read the Gospel and delivered the homily, which he spent a week developing after reflecting on a line from the first reading (Acts 1:1-11): “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” It somehow led him to believe the key message is “finding Christ in other people.” Really? You wracked your brains for a week, and that’s what you came up with? That same week we learned that the Church is hemorrhaging members. Another fourteen years of the Gospel of Nice and one wonders if there will be a parish to visit. And twenty years after the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it shouldn’t be this difficult to give a homily with a modicum of content. In addition to books that index the lectionary to the Catechism (see here and here), a 90-second Google search revealed these handy links that do much the same thing. To borrow from a popular meme, “You had one job this morning.”

For only $350, your high school-aged sons and daughters who aspire to be liturgical musicians can have the Worship and Youth & Young Adult Ministry offices of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati teach them how to use “voice, keyboard, guitar, brass, winds, percussion or strings” at Mass — never mind that all but the first of these really don’t have a place at Mass to begin with.  Here’s a promotional video to whet your appetite:

In all too many parishes, “all-school Mass” is synonymous with “every liturgical abuse under the sun.”  Over the years, priests, principals, and teachers have been under the impression that Masses for young Catholics are exempt from the rubrics and that the best way to connect with students is to present them with the liturgical excesses of the ’70s and ’80s, e.g., recruiting them to serve as extraordinary ministers, lining them up with petitions for the prayers of the faithful, dragooning them into student choirs to sing inappropriate hymns.  If you want to know why so many Catholics have an artificial understanding of the Mass, consider that many of them spent 8-12 years marinating in bad liturgy at their Catholic school.  Not so at St. Cecilia of Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood on the near East side.  I had a light schedule this morning, so Mrs. Leonardi and I walked over for the Thursday all-school Mass at 9 o’clock, and it was a refreshingly reverent experience.  The pastor Fr. Jamie Weber chanted virtually the entire Mass in the vernacular; to the extent hymns were used, they were generally tasteful and sung well by the (smallish) student choir; the students remained composed throughout and notably didn’t feel compelled to hold hands during the Our Father; a reader handled the petitions and the two or three extraordinary ministers were teachers or adults, not students (though the EMHCs did bless the arms-crossed non-Catholic students, which is a no-no).  In short, the students were treated like worshiping members of the Body of Christ, not volunteers at a festival or attendees at a pep rally.  Kudos to Fr. Weber and the students and staff at St. Cecilia.

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