October 2015

“If you perform just one truly generous act for someone else your salvation is assured.”
— weekend celebrant at St. Mary of Hyde Park

It’s always great when you have a full-stop teaching moment during the homily at your territorial parish.

From the top …







It’s almost November, and for local Catholics that means the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is ramping up efforts to support the controversial Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Although it doesn’t generate the headlines it once did, and in fairness the local groups funded aren’t nearly as offensive as the scandal-plagued ACORN or the simply obnoxious Contact Center (whose logo included an upraised Marxist-style fist), CCHD is still associated with community action groups which take positions on public policy matters about which Catholics are free to disagree. In any event, I’d like to focus on the concluding paragraph of this year’s CCHD letter from Archbishop Schnurr, which was almost certainly written by Tony Stieritz of the Catholic Social Action Office, a group that, again, operates like the Cincinnati branch office of Catholics for Obama. Here it is:

We send two-thirds of this collection to the national CCHD offices at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (much of which comes back to fund organizations operating in our archdiocese). The remaining one-third of the collection is granted to agencies in our own archdiocese by way of recommendation of our own archdiocesan CCHD Committee. A smaller portion supports the U.S. bishops’ Black and Indian Mission Fund, anti-poverty education efforts in our parishes and schools, and administration of those funds. It is our strict policy that organizations that receive CCHD funds must not participate in or promote activities that promote abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, affronts to human life and dignity, or any positions contrary to fundamental Church teaching.

If this were the old Sesame Street show, Big Bird would sing, “One of these things is not like the others.” The one thing of course is the death penalty, which Catholics may support, placed alongside abortion and same sex marriage, which Catholics may not. Pope Benedict explained it all rather well in his famous “Ratzinger Memo” on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, so there’s no need to rehash the arguments now.

The inclusion of the death penalty in the AOC’s list of anathemas is also rather silly. The CCHD funds leftwing organizations, none of whom would dream of supporting the death penalty. So why include it? As a sop to the CCHD’s “progressive” constituents, many of whom are presumably still smarting from all the censorious attention their cause got a few years ago.

N.B. The entire Nov. 21-22 weekend collection at your parish will go to the CCHD. As I’ve written before, leave your wallet home and consider making a donation to a more worthy cause.

There’s a priest downtown who makes a habit out of extravagantly extending his hands at Mass. So high does he reach them that you fear he might spin into a pirouette. Fr. Edward McNamara, the house liturgist for Zenit, takes up the question of what’s appropriate.

Here’s a snippet:

The extraordinary form is much more specific. As one popular ceremonies book describes the gesture at the collect: “While [the priest] says ‘oremus’ he extends the hands and joins them again, and he bows his head to the missal. Then he reads the collect, holding the hands uplifted — but not exceeding the height or width of the shoulders — and extended, the fingers held close together and bowing towards the missal should the name of the saint in whose honor the Mass is celebrated occur. When he says ‘Per Dominum nostrum’ etc., he joins his hands.”

While a priest celebrating the ordinary form may not be strictly bound to these exact norms, I would say that they do provide a good rule of thumb as to what the Church understands when it asks priests to pray with hands extended. These rules were not invented by some obscure 16th-century curial official but are rather the codification of an already existing custom that had developed over several centuries.

A priest could follow the above rule. However, since the post-conciliar liturgy deliberately left out a strict specification of the gesture, it is also legitimate to extend the hands a little further if he considers it appropriate. For example, some modern vestments tend to require a somewhat more ample gesture than the traditional Roman chasuble. The above rule, however, does caution against exaggerated gestures that tend to draw attention toward the celebrant himself and not the prayer he is reciting.

Cincinnati’s Bellarmine Chapel, a local shrine on the campus of Xavier University dedicated to pelvic dissent, fanciful exegesis, 70’s-style liturgical abuses, and, foremost, denying the salvific action of Christ on the cross, posts last Sunday’s musings from Ken Overberg, S.J., wherein he undermines Christ’s teachings on divorce — just in time for the Synod on the Family.

Here’s the money ‘graf:

Finally, the gospel presents Jesus’ teaching on divorce, as modified by the evangelist. Mark adapts to the Gentile world Jesus’ conviction, adding the part about a woman divorcing her husband. Jesus would not have said that, because Jewish women could not divorce Jewish men. In our context today, we are keenly aware of the seriousness of divorce. We search for ways to be faithful to Jesus’ vision and to be compassionate and wise in our own real world. Indeed, beginning today in Rome is the Synod on the Family that will address these very issues.

He goes on to take note of Respect Life Sunday by sneering at the pro-life movement.

Early in his episcopate, Cincinnati archbishop Dennis Schnurr confronted Xavier University president Michael Graham, S.J., about the many troubling things taking place on campus, even going so far as to issue an ultimatum. It’s fairly obvious at this point who won that standoff.

The good folks at the Catholic Education Resource Center post a 2013 video about Rome’s St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four Patriarchal/Major Basilicas, with commentary from Church historian Elizabeth Lev.  One of the highlights of my 2014 trip to Rome with my oldest son, Benedict, was visiting these basilicas.  If memory serves, we hit St. Paul’s late in the day Sunday for Mass and confession.  I remember Ben wanting to take advantage of an indulgence.  We’ll visit them again next fall (’16) when we take the whole family.

I serendipitously happened to read this passage from H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome this week on the eve of St. John Leonardi’s feast day:

Upon a table in the library I saw an exquisite little birdcage made of silver and gilded wood in the form of a baroque shrine. It is one of the dove cages used in 1935 at the canonization of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. It took me back to the scene in St. Peter’s about twenty years ago, when Andrea Bobola, John Leonardi, and Salvatore da Horta were canonized. During the Mass of Canonization, I heard the sound of birds chirping, and the cooing of doves, and saw a procession of monks and men in black court dress walk up the nave of St. Peter’s carrying little gilded cages, also small silver and gold barrels of wine and loaves of bread on a golden tray. There was silence in the church except for the cooing of the doves, as the Postulants, or advocates for the new saints, knelt before the Pope’s chair and made their offerings. Three times the cages full of bright chirpings were held up to the Pope, once for each of the three new saints, and the Pope leaned forward and blessed the birds as they put their heads on one side and gazed up into the blaze of light. There is no moment in any ceremony more beautiful than this, a relic of the offerings of bread and wine made in the primitive Church, the birds symbolic of the purity and celestial nature of the sacrifice.

Does anyone know if this ceremony is still part of the canonization Mass?