Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"It's a Twister!"

My assignment, before my "canon law odyssey" began, was as pastor of two parishes about thirty miles from Louisville in Meade County, KY (St. John the Apostle in Brandenburg and St. Martin of Tours in Flaherty). Two wonderful parishes with wonderful people. Brandenburg is known locally as Kentucky's version of "tornado alley." It seems that whenever there is nasty weather, it is nastiest down that way. Something about the location on the Ohio River, people say, funnels (no pun intended) all the bad weather right there. This reputation was well-earned with the tragic tornado outbreak of Spring 1974, which literally wiped the better part of Brandenburg off the map.

Well I came across some video I shot the morning of Ash Wednesday of 2008, when a relatively small (estimated F1 - F2) tornado struck again. Hiding in the basement with my dog "Sadie," I thought the roof was coming off at one point, which makes me imagine what going through a big tornado must be like. We lucked out: no one was hurt and the only damage the town sustained was that which could be repaired (LOTS of roofs needing to be replaced and LOTS of trees needing to be cleaned up). A few buildings were completely destroyed. Check it out:

Well, all these memories were sparked by a recent impressive photo that a former parishioner sent me that was taken of a funnel cloud over Brandenburg in a storm that hit earlier this month. Check it out:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vintage Base Ball...

My sister Katie and I drove up to French Lick, Indiana (home of basketball legend Larry Bird) to the newly restored West Baden Springs Hotel. A beautiful old hotel built upon a mineral spring that was once the hangout of Chicago mobsters the likes of Al Capone, and others. It was the site today of the "Vintage Base Ball World Series" - a series of games played according to the rules of base ball in force in the mid-19th century. That means no gloves, no strikes, vintage uniforms, outs are called "hands," and runs are called "aces."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Homily for the Beginning of the "Year of the Priest"

First, a video of the Mass (Extraordinary Form - 3rd Sunday after Pentecost):

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

I will ask your forgiveness to indulge me, as I take the opportunity this weekend to reflect upon something near and dear to my heart. This weekend, at the prompting of our Holy Father Pope Benedict, we begin a one year observance marking the priesthood. This year is dedicated, in a special way, to the great Saint John Vianney: the patron of parish priests. I am fortunate to have been given his relic several years ago now, which I have with me for this Mass today. In this coming year, Mother Church will reflect upon one of the great gifts that Jesus her Lord has left us, in that he chooses sinful and frail men, and empowers them to bring His presence to the world. Our understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of those things that sets us apart as Catholics. Through this sacrament, Jesus is mysteriously still at work within His Church, for it is through the hands of a priest that He offers Himself to us through the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments. These two sacraments - the priesthood and the Eucharist - are inseparably intertwined. For as Pope Benedict reminds us in his letter marking the beginning of this "Year of the Priest:" there would be no Eucharist without the priesthood. The Eucharist: in particular the aspect of Jesus' radical giving of self which we are reminded of there - is the model of the priest's life. In a world that seems to be all about self-gratification, the life of the priest is called to be a reminder that there is something more than just the here and now. The priest's life, the Church has reminded us, is a life that is meant to be touched in some way by sacrifice. Jesus reminds us, however, that it is in giving that we receive.

The Eucharist is also the model for what occurs through ordination. For just as in the Eucharist mere bread and wine are transformed into the very body and blood of the Lord, so too, through ordination, a frail and sinful human being is transformed in some mysterious way, into an icon of Jesus. When he sits in the confessional and says the words: "I absolve you of your sins" it is not he who speaks, but Jesus. When a priest walks into your hospital room when you are sick and dying, is it not Jesus Himself who enters that room to console and bless? This, for the priest, is the most humbling of realizations: that he ministers in the name and person of Christ.

Each of us, I would imagine, have a priest or two whom we think of often, who may have touched our lives in some special way. Perhaps he was there in some time of need or during some tragedy in our life. Perhaps he served as a role model or in some way inspired us to become who we are today. Pray for that priest. Pray that God may preserve him in his ministry and give him confidence and courage to proclaim the gospel in a world that so often doesn't want to hear it. If he is deceased, pray that God might overlook his failures and give him the reward of his goodness in this life.

We have traditionally spoken of the priest as "alter Christus" - "another Christ." This understanding, I believe, is essential for us to reinforce in the Church and world today. In a world where, sadly as a result of our own tragic failures, the priesthood has been so badly tarnished, we need to remind ourselves of the holiness that is called for in the priest, as well as in the Church. This isn't a false holiness - some sort of plastic piety. No, it is an authentic joy and love for God and the Church. This, perhaps more than anything else, is what a priest is called to witness to: the love of God in Christ Jesus. For it is out of love for God that a priest is called to do everything that he does. It is the reason he is able to answer the phone call to rush to the hospital at 3 in the morning. It is the reason he can accept the obligations of prayer, obedience, and celibacy: out of love for God in Christ Jesus, whose life he tries to imitate in a special way. It is the reason he is able to stand at this altar and say the words: "this is my body... this is my blood" - precisely because his life is meant to be so closely linked to that of Jesus Himself. As Jesus gave His very life for us, the priest tries to give his life for you.

So as we begin this "Year of the Priest" pray for your priest. Pray that he may be given the ability to live up to the ideal of Jesus' life, which he is called to. As a man, he is beset by weakness. Pray that his human weaknesses might be overshadowed by the mercy of God. Pray as well for those who are called by God to serve as priests and religious. In a world which often mocks them, pray that they will be given the support of family and friends, that Christ may continue His priestly ministry through them.

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corpus Christi 2009...

A video compilation of the Mass and Procession of Corpus Christi yesterday, 14 June 2009, from St. Martin's.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stephen Foster Day at the Track...

Compliments of a friend of mine, I was schmoozing it at the track today. The Stephen Foster Race today, and Calvin Borel was riding the overwhelming favorite. Unlike the Derby, he came in third today. Oh well, I'm no handicapper... It was a nice view from the press box (read: free drinks and nachos... woohoo! Thanks, Tony).

The twin spires:

A view from the first turn of the most famous race track in the world:

One of my few wins of the day:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corpus Christi with Pope Benedict...

A report from "The New Liturgical Movement" on today's festivities (the traditional day of Corpus Christi) in the eternal city... Click HERE.

Yet another sighting of the Holy Father in a Roman chasuble...

"The Bells of St. Martin's..."

Well, there's no Bing Crosby in this one, but I came across an interesting clip on Youtube that someone made of the church bells ringing before the Sunday Extraordinary Form Mass at my home parish a few months ago. I always have liked the sound of church bells ringing...

(Don't be disappointed: this is strictly an audio clip, no video here...)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Corpus Christi Procession...

This coming weekend (for those who transfer the feast from Thursday to Sunday - which is most everyone...) is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi - and the time for the traditional Corpus Christi Processions. Louisville Catholics who are old enough will remember the annual processions that were held at Churchill Downs from the 1940's into the 1970's. This Sunday many parishes will be marking the feast by having their own - or participating in regional - processions. This was the case at my last parish assignment at St. Martin of Tours in Flaherty, KY, which has a long and proud tradition of hosting the Corpus Christi Procession for that area.

Corpus Christi 2008 in Flaherty, KY:

The feast dates from the year 1264 when Pope Urban IV, by issue of the papal bull "Transiturus," established Corpus Christi as a feast to be celebrated throughout the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas composed the propers for the Mass of Corpus Christi, including the popular hymn "Pange Lingua." The procession, which accompanies the feast in many places, is a hallmark of the event, in which Catholics take the opportunity to publicly manifest their belief in the Real Presence (click HERE for an interesting insight into the history of the procession as an element of Divine worship).

Some pictures of Corpus Christi Processions throughout the world:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Party at "The Compound"...

Another successful gathering hosted by "Goat Cheese Chuck" at his place...

Friends gather:

The pig is roasted:

The band cranks out some tunes:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Presbyteral Assembly...

Just getting back from a week at St. Meinrad in Southern Indiana for our annual presbyteral assembly (a week-long series of meetings, essentially). A good time as usual, getting the chance to catch-up with all the priests of the archdiocese after having been away for the majority of the past year.