Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adventures in Great Liturgy...

Continuing on a recent theme (See the post: The Mother of all Thuribles), how would you like to show up at your local parish this coming Sunday morning and see this going on:

I don't know about you, but I would be VERY excited. Apparently, this is what is referred to as a "faro" in the Ambrosian Rite (celebrated in Milan). It is constructed of cotton, hoisted in the sanctuary, and set ablaze on the feast days of martyrs. I don't know for sure, but the fire department in Milan must be a very nervous lot...

It just goes to show: when it comes to the liturgy, you're really not doing it right if there's not at least a reasonably good chance you'll burn the place down.

A Saintly Smack-Down...

St. Nicholas' feast day passed by once again without me posting about one of the greatest stories ever told (in my estimation) about the goodly saint. Remembered almost exclusively nowadays as the archetype for "Santa Claus" and a kindly grandpa-like figure who brought poor children gifts, he was perhaps the first saint to ever put the smackdown on heretics (literally). Nicholas was a bishop present at the Council of Nicea when the heretic Arius, who denied the full divinity of Christ, was called before the council to defend his position. Nicholas, who apparently had had enough, proceeded to punch Arius in the face. Here, here! The event has even been recorded in some early artwork portraying the council:

(Nicholas, fist raised, while Arius cowers on the floor)

Here's another one, a detail of the pugilistic moment:

So just remember: He knows when you've been naughty, he knows when you've been nice... And he's not afraid to come and rearrange your face.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Italian Religious Processions...

My God, the Italians know how to put a religious procession together. Several years ago I found myself in Florence on the feast of the Epiphany, where my buddy Joe and I ended up in the middle of a procession, complete with a canon (which the Italians fired on every street corner), people dressed in Medieval garb, marching bands, a complete Nativity scene, you name it. As further evidence that the Italians do it right, check out this video of the feast of San Clemente in Rome:

Check out a procession that Joe caught on the last trip to Rome. This was near the Piazza Navona:

Video of the Epiphany procession in Florence from January, 2005:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Mass...

A collection of favorite images of the Mass/Eucharist:

During American Civil War:

During World War I in Belgium:

St. John, Silver Spring

St. John Church, Silver Spring, before the 8:00 AM Extraordinary Form Mass this morning...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Last Friday of the Semester at the Gunpowder...

The papers are done and studying for the final exams has begun. This week has been the calm before the storm as I come to the end of another semester. Yesterday afforded the opportunity to get away to the Gunpowder River for a little Friday fishing. The weather was pretty cold (about 40 for a high), but the fish were still looking up and taking flies off the surface. My last trip to the Gunpowder a few weeks ago I got skunked: not a fish was caught. I did, however, notice a hatch of some tiny little tan-colored insects coming off. I didn't have a fly in my box that came close to imitating it. In the effort to imitate this tiny fly, I spent about an hour at the fly tying vise and came up with this, tied on a tiny size 22 hook:

I tied up about four or five and threw them in my fly box. It proved effective yesterday. The same hatch was coming off sporadically throughout the day (in spite of the cold weather) and I caught three fish on this handy little pattern. I'll be tying more of these...

Here's a few pics and a video of what was a cold, but beautiful day on the river:

(notice the new fly successfully hooked in the top of its mouth:)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Break, Advent, and the End of the Semester...

The title of this post just about sums up what's been going on the past week and a half. Enjoyed a nice trip home for the thanksgiving holiday where my sister KATIE prepared a fantastic thanksgiving meal, and now I'm back for the final push of the Fall semester. All the writing is done and now is the calm before the final exams. Advent has begun, and so I include my favorite hymn from this time of the year below.

An overflowing thanksgiving plate:

The master chef at work:

Dinner with friends at "the castel:"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Goodbye, Sadie Girl...

One of the best dogs I've ever had...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Congratulations to Vice-President Kurtz...

Archbishop Kurtz, from my own humble see of Louisville, was today elected as Vice President of the national bishop's conference. In and of itself, it doesn't seem to be coming as too much of a surprise to people out there in the "blagosphere." He seems to be well respected by all. Of course, all the buzz is not about this, but the fact that the bishops broke from their long-standing protocol and voted someone other than the standing vice president into the president's office. Naturally, much is being made about this on "both sides of the aisle" (so-to-speak).

(And now, my rant...)
I'm amused and saddened at the same time by many of the comments being posted on various blogs (try HERE): one side or the other crying victory over the other, as if this is a political election. Mudslinging, truly, is not reserved to political races it seems. Cries of condemnation. Conspiracy theories abound. Bitter name calling. I must say that I am still shocked by the vitriolic nature of it all.

Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe I'm overly charitable, but I think enough of our bishops nowadays to trust that by-and-large they have the best interest of the Church in mind, and like your typical priest, just want to serve in the best way they know how (gasp from the crowd... did he just say that?). You can disagree with me on that (and I know some that will - you can chide me in your comments), but I guess I'm just naive enough to still believe it. We're not here to advocate one "side" over another. As Catholics, are we not one side already, witnessing to the Truth of faith? Is it not our task to conform ourselves to the gospel, as found in the teachings and Tradition of the Church, and not to campaign for one candidate over another? But alas, the kind of true openness to the gospel and the Church's authentic leaders that such requires is still lacking today. Faced with the challenge of self-abandonment to the gospel and all that it entails, we still prefer our own little lines of demarcation. We still say "I'm so-and-so type of a Catholic." I agree with this or that only, but refuse the type of "obsequium religiosum" that we must make to the entire gospel. If "your man" gets elected to leadership, then praise God. I trust that he (whoever he is) will have the best interest of us all at heart. But if "your guy" didn't get elected, then how about some openness to the guy who did, and trust that the Holy Spirit is still at the helm? It seems to me that the sooner we can get that in our heads, the better. Perhaps today we just got an important insight into why the election of the pope is not broadcast on cable news networks. And thank God, as far as I'm concerned... Can you imagine? All the political satirists and pundits sitting there in a corner of the Sistine Chapel as the Cardinal Camerlengo solemnly reads the votes aloud? Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck, voices hushed, analyzing how many votes one cardinal got compared to another, and what it all means for the perceived "triumph" of this group over that? How can that be anything other than fracturing of the authentic oneness of faith that we are all called to? Let me be counted as one who thinks that that would be a horrible idea, and suggest that the Bishops conference should give serious thought to not indulging us when it comes to vote counts and the like. Just tell me that Archbishop Dolan was elected president, and not "that he defeated Bishop X by 17 votes." Maybe what I long for is just a bit more unity amongst Catholics ("orthodoxy" in it's truest sense, perhaps?). Just my two-cents. Now, back to my little cave of canon law...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Mother of all Thuribles...

Any liturgist will tell you: if you're going to use a symbol, then USE the symbol... somehow, I think they might not have had this in mind. I stand in awe:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cool Video...

OK, so I've been killing time recently (taking breaks from paper writing...) and watching some cool documentaries on NASA and the space program. I put the documentary series "When We Left Earth" in my Netflix queue a while back and have been watching them recently. I came across a very cool video of a shuttle launch that was posted on Youtube. It's a video taken by a camera they mounted on one of the fuel boosters. It provides a pretty cool external view of the shuttle launch, and even records the boosters separation and fall back to earth. Check it out:

The Studium Rotale...

Came across some interesting (and relatively rare) photos of the administration of the oath to new students of the Studium Rotale - the school of canon law attached to the Roman Rota. The oath is taken in the Cancellaria: the long-time home of the Rota and Apostolic Signatura on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome. It is interesting to see the Rotal Judges in their traditional togae. It was just this past March that I was in this very same room of the Cancellaria with my JCL class meeting with two of the Judges myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekend Road Trip...

Just got back last night from a weekend getaway: getting in some fishing down at the South Holston River in East Tennessee. Met up with a buddy of mine (Joe) who drove down from Louisville, and spent the weekend fly fishing. Had a great time, caught a good number of fish, and braved the elements doing so. Saturday it actually snowed on us for a while! The fish were still biting in spite of the elements. I had to put some extra school work in to be able to get away, but it was worth it. Here's a few pics and a video:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And This Week's Ground for Marriage Invalidity is...

"Canon 1103: a marriage is invalid if entered into out of force or grave fear inflicted from without, even if unintentionally inflicted, so that a person is compelled to choose marriage in order to be free from it."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chesterton on Cigars...

Myself and a good number of my priest friends often times enjoy sharing a cigar. While some would argue this constitutes a vice, I on the other hand choose to see it as a virtue, enhancing the qualities of fraternity and relaxation. In honor of this belief, I offer a few humorous quotes about the enjoyment of a fine cigar by G.K. Chesterton:

"To have a horror of tobacco is not to have an abstract standard of right; but exactly the opposite. It is to have no standard of right whatever; and to make certain local likes and dislikes as a substitute. Nobody who has an abstract standard of right and wrong can possibly think it wrong to smoke a cigar. It is a vague sentimental notion that certain habits were not suitable to the old log cabin or the old hometown. It has a vague utilitarian notion that certain habits are not directly useful in the new amalgamated stores or the new financial gambling-hell. If his aged mother or his economic master dislikes to see a young man hanging about with a pipe in his mouth, the action becomes a sin; or the nearest that such a moral philosophy can come to the idea of a sin. A man does not chop wood for the log hut by smoking; and a man does not make dividends for the Big Boss by smoking; and therefore smoking has a smell as of something sinful."

"Incidentally, I must say I can bear witness to this queer taboo about tobacco. Of course numberless Americans smoke numberless cigars; a great many others eat cigars, which seems to me a more occult pleasure. But there does exist an extraordinary idea that ethics are involved in some way; and many who smoke really disapprove of smoking.

I remember once receiving two American interviewers on the same afternoon; there was a box of cigars in front of me and I offered one to each in turn. Their reaction (as they would probably call it) was very curious to watch. The first journalist stiffened suddenly and silently and declined in a very cold voice. He could not have conveyed more plainly that I had attempted to corrupt an honorable man with a foul and infamous indulgence; as if I were the Old Man of the Mountain offering him hashish that would turn him into an assassin. The second reaction was even more remarkable. The second journalist first looked doubtful; then looked sly; then seemed to glance about him nervously, as if wondering whether we were alone, and then said with a sort of crestfallen and covert smile: "Well, Mr. Chesterton, I'm afraid I have the habit."

"The Catholic Church is like a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good cigar."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Observations on the Post-Conciliar Liturgical Reform...

I am currently working on a paper involving liturgical law and the reforms which took place following the landmark Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council. This involves an analysis of the various instructions that came from the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship directing the implementation of the precepts set forth by the Constitution. I came across a great quote from one of these later instructions, Liturgicae instaurationes, of 5 September 1970.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that I have an affinity for the "Extraordinary Form" of the Roman Rite, and that I have been celebrating it for many years now. It has always been my observation that this form of the Mass has had a particular attraction amongst younger people of my generation. This has always come as a bit of a surprise to those not in favor of this form of the Mass, who often characterize this attraction on our parts as a misplaced longing for the past, a fruit of a kind of liturgical scrupulosity, or worse. I don't believe that this is truly the case for most, however. It seems to me (speaking personally) that the attraction of younger people to the "Extraordinary Form" is based primarily on two things. First is that participation in that form of the Mass recalls so poignantly that what one is engaging in in the Church's liturgy transcends the boundaries of one's limited community of the faithful (granted that the conditions of the local community do have a part in the liturgy, especially in the content of the homily, the choice of various legitimate styles of music and vesture, and various other elements of the Mass). This longing for membership in a larger community - an identification with the Church universal - is particularly strong for us. Secondly, this form of the Mass emphasizes the nature of the liturgy as both a spiritual and physical directing of the community towards God. I would argue that this is due largely to the common orientation of the priest and congregation ad orientem, and thus strictly speaking is not unique to the "Extraordinary Form."

As I read these various documents of the liturgical reform, I can't help but identify these liturgical principles present in them. It also seems to me, a person born well after the council (i.e. 1975) and after this initial period of liturgical renovation, that there is a bit of objectivity that one can bring to bear on the liturgical reforms that ensued. It seems that as the reform progressed, there was a greater drawing-back and reigning-in of the liturgical experimentations that were occurring. At least one gets the sense of that from the tone of the various instructions as they were issued one after another. I keep reading these documents and keep thinking that in some ways the liturgical experimentations can be likened to a gorilla who was let out of its cage, and these instructions were attempts to coax him back in. Perhaps we're still trying to accomplish that. Anyway, I post one of the more interesting quotes from the document here. I think that Sacrosanctum Concilium and all of these instructions should be mandatory reading for all those involved in the Church's liturgy today:

The effectiveness of liturgy does not lie in experimenting with rites and altering them over and over, nor in a continuous reductionism, but solely in entering more deeply into the Word of God and the mystery being celebrated. It is the presence of these two that authenticates the Church's rites, not what some priest decides, indulging his own preferences.
Keep in mind, then, that the private recasting of ritual introduced by an individual priest insults the dignity of the believer and lays the way open to individual and idiosyncratic forms in celebrations that are in fact the property of the whole Church.
The ministry of the priest is the ministry of the universal Church: its exercise is impossible without the obedience, hierarchic communion, and the will to serve God and neighbor. The hierarchic character and sacramental power of the liturgy as well as the respectful service owed to the believing community demand that the priest fulfill his role in worship as the "faithful servant and steward of the mysteries of God," without imposing any rite not decreed and sanctioned by the liturgical books

(Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship; Instruction Liturgicae instaurationes, 5 September 1970: AAS 62 [1970] 692-704. Art. 1)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Break II: Extraordinary Form Nuptial Mass...

While I was home for fall break I had the privilege of celebrating a wedding Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Martin's. Congratulations to Scott ("Scotus") and Emily ("Aemilia"). Thanks also to Charlie for the pics:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Break...

I'm just getting back to DC after a week spent at home during the school's fall break. Had a great week catching up with friends, getting in a little fishing, celebrating Mass at St. Martin's (including a wedding last Saturday in the Extraordinary Form), and just generally doing my best impersonation of a bump on a log. As always, it was nice being home, seeing the guys, and being reminded that my time in JCL studies will soon be coming to an end...

Here's a quick video of some of last week's fishing:

A few pics of a particularly beautiful sunrise on the drive back to DC this morning:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And a Reds Fan Weeps...

And here I thought that being a Reds fan was going to be less painful this year...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Continuing the Baseball Theme...

Since we're on a baseball kind of theme around here right now, here's a video of some baseball memories of mine growing up. The late 70's and 80's are filled with memories of going up to Cincinnati to watch Reds games, spending most weeknights at the old Cardinal Stadium watching the Redbirds play, or stopping to catch the occasional UofL college game over at the old Parkway Field. Here's a few pictures I've come across of them all:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reds: NL Central Division Champs!

What a game it was last night. Won on a solo homerun by Jay Bruce in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds clinched the National League's central division for the first time since 1995. It's their first season in 9 years to have a .500+ winning percentage. Finally, it feels good to be a Reds fan again! I guess that little shrine my sister set-up did the trick...

ahh, remember when...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Magic Number is ONE!

I can't believe it... barring any last-minute horrendous disasters, my Reds look to have made the playoffs! The last time this happenned: 1995. And I was there. The Reds swept the Dodgers in round one of the NLCS, lighting up Hideo Nomo in the last game of the series in Cincinnati before getting miserably handled by the Atlanta Braves. Now all they have to do is beat the Astros TONIGHT!

Props to my sister Katie for her (frightening?) shrine she has built for tonight's game:

When will it happen at my Alma Mater? (An Extraordinary Form Rant...)

Three-plus years now after the promulgation of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," it still amazes me how the now-called "Extraordinary Form" of the Mass has seen such tremendous growth. And who says things don't change quickly in the Church? I mean this not only in the number of Extraordinary Form Masses taking place on any given Sunday in parish churches across the country and world, but also by the greater "normalcy" that is given to its celebration. Gone it seems are the days when the "Tridentine Mass" (as it was called) possessed such a stigma. Just last week I celebrated a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for a group of students here at CUA over at the National Shrine. Such things are relatively normal nowadays.

I remember my own days in seminary (not too long ago now) when - God forbid - the seminary faculty discovered that you were not disgusted by the mere thought of the Mass in Latin! Such was grounds - if not for dismissal - at least for intensive psychotherapy... aimed at purging one of their dangerous, radical, anti-establishment tendencies. How surprising it still is for me - given my own experiences in seminary - to hear word and see pictures of the traditional Mass being celebrated with reverence and devotion in seminaries! Seminary faculty members are now celebrating it in the chapel. Bishops are attending in choir. Seminarians are being encouraged to understand and participate in that form of the Mass! It was hardly more than 15 years ago now that the words of consecration at the seminary Mass were (and sadly, I quote:) "Except for the raisins, This is my Body." Amazing...

And what brought on this rant of mine, you ask? I just came across a post over at the New Liturgical Movement blog about a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at Notre Dame seminary in New Orleans. The post is HERE.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fr. James Lichtefeld, R.I.P.

I ask your prayers today for a priest back home who just passed away: Fr. James Lichtefeld. A consummate character, I will always remember Fr. Jim as the pastor of the parish where I grew up. An intimidating man, the pronunciation of his last name was always sure to spark a debate with him. I remember how, upon hearing of the (ahem) "alternate pronunciation" (think "lick your face") that the grade schoolers had developed for him, he marched from room to room (from first grade to the eighth) where he gave a 15 minute lecture on how to correctly spell and pronounce his last name (L-I-C-H-T-E-F-E-L-D!). I was in seventh grade at the time. Years later, after I was ordained, he swore to me he never did that... oh well. Underneath his gruff exterior was a good man and a good priest. It took me some time to realize that, but thank God I did. During a turbulent time in the Church's history, Fr. Jim proved faithful, and there's a lot to be said for that alone. I've come to think over the years that there is no priest who does everything well. Each has their own particular thing that they are better at and enjoy the most. For Fr. Jim that was hospital visitations. Many, many people would recount how faithful he was at their bedside during a time of illness. Or how he was so good with their parent or spouse who lie dying. He was a tremendous help at our tribunal, too, where he functioned as a Defender of the Bond. So, say a prayer for this good man who today went to his reward. May God forgive his faults, and grant him the reward of his goodness. Amen.

UPDATE: arrangements for Fr. Jim include visitation on Thursday, September 23 from 1-8PM at Ratterman's (3800 Bardstown Rd.), with Funeral Mass on Friday at 11:00AM at St. Stephen's.

Anyone for a carriage ride?

This must be the season to celebrate parish anniversaries. St. Vincent DePaul in New Hope, KY (one of the prettiest churches in the archdiocese, in my humble opinion) just celebrated their 190th anniversary. Now that's what I call arriving in style...

Read the article from The Record HERE.

Chant Recordings from the Abbey of Gethsemani...

Continuing our Kentucky Catholic theme, I came across some recordings (done in the late fifties) of the Trappist monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani (not far from Bardstown).

A short video of the bells ringing at Gethsemani:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Catholic Kentucky...

Most people up here in DC are more than a bit surprised when I tell them that Louisville is not only an archdiocese (not a diocese), but that it is the oldest inland diocese in the United States. Many of their dioceses were once a part of mine! We celebrated the two-hundreth anniversary of the founding of the diocese back in 2008, in conjunction with the papal visit that year. Most people seem to think that because Kentucky is largely considered a Southern state, that there are hardly any Catholics there. But quite the opposite is true. When the Catholic migration to this country began in earnest, most came from England to the Eastern shore of Maryland. Of that group, a significant number continued West, over the mountains, and into the then-Western frontier of Kentucky. Along the way they encountered much difficulty and hardship, not least of which was the continual threat of Indian attack. The Catholic pioneers settled an area surrounding Pottinger's Creek in 1785. A small log church was soon constructed at the small crossroads in 1792. In 1823, under the pastorship of Fr. Charles Nerinckx, the current church structure was completed. Fr. Nerinckx was a Belgian, who was educated at Louvain. After enduring four years of persecution by the French, he fled Europe and arrived in the United States in 1804. Bishop John Carroll assigned him to assist Fr. Stephen Badin - the only priest serving in Kentucky at the time and the first man to be ordained a priest in the United States.

My reason for bringing all this up you ask? Well, a friend of mine (Charlie) just recently posted some pictures of Holy Cross parish's 225th anniversary celebration. Enjoy:

Some Suggested Further Reading:
An American Holy Land (A History of the Archdiocese of Louisville), Clyde F. Crews, 1987.
The Catholic Church on the Kentucky Frontier (1785-1812), Sr. Mary Ramona Mattingly, M.A., 1974.
Cathedrals in the Wilderness, J. Herman Schauinger, 1952.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Friday...

And you know what that means...

On an exciting note, I actually caught a fish on one of my own flies that I tied: an eight inch brown was caught on a size 16 elk hair caddis. I tried to get some video of it without dropping the phone in the river (check it out at :50)...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

High Flows on the Gunpowder...

Water releases from the upstream dam on the Gunpowder last week have the river flowing at 350cfs (more than double its normal flows...). Makes for some difficult fishing, but I still managed a couple trout yesterday:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fly Tying...

I gave in... After several years of buying my flies with which I fished, I gave in to the temptation to learn how to tie my own. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the whole romance thing about catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself. Right, I get it. I have come to the conclusion that, even with all the different places I've fished over the past two years, the flies I use that consistently are successful only add up to about 6 or 8 in total. I can learn how to tie these few flies, right?

I purchased an inexpensive beginner's kit and set it up on my desk. Well, I hope I'm not premature in my opinion here, but I am surprised by how fly tying looked so difficult but really isn't that bad. The kit I purchased came with a handy-dandy instructional book with the basic information/skills you need, plus detailed instructions on how to tie 8 of the most common fly patterns (only three of which are included in the 6-8 that I regularly use).

So, I just spent 30 minutes fiddling around with it (taking a break from reading canon law all day, mind you...). I figured: what the heck, let's jump in the deep end of the pool and try tying a pattern that I know I'll use, but isn't one of the ones in the book with the step-by-step instructions and all the pictures. I can figure this out, right? Well, I'm surprised by how well it turned out. Not perfect, by any stretch, but not bad for a first attempt. Check it out: