Monday, June 23, 2014

72. New People on my List of Favorites

So I have 2 new favorite people and I want to share them with you, just because...

I know what you're thinking: But, he was excommunicated! SSWW is a heretic!
Attention! Don't freak out! I repeat; don't freak out!!!!!
First, let me explain. Please.

Fr. Leonard Feeney is known as a priest who preached the dogma "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (EENS for short)," or, "Outside of the Church there is no Salvation." But there's a history of the happenings surrounding Fr. Feeney and his involvement with the Saint Benedict Center. Such history cannot be written in a brief blog post, but I will refer you to the book that I am currently reading, titled The Loyolas and the Cabots by Sr. Catherine MICM. It's a fantastic read, is very interesting, and gives an inside look at what happened with Fr. Feeney. (For those looking for instant knowledge, he was temporarily excommunicated without due process for his relentless teaching of the Dogma that was very misunderstood by the liberals in Boston.)

Of course, now you're probably wondering (unless you know the story) about his excommunication. It lasted from 1953-1972, so nearly 20 years, but he was reconciled and entered back into communion with the Church, although he never was made to renounce his interpretation of EENS.

So here's why I LOVE Fr. Feeney:

He was bold. He wasn't ashamed of the Teachings and Dogmas of the Church, and he certainly never backed down even when challenged by authorities. He knew his stuff and he didn't let anyone boss him around, save for the Roman Pontiff. He stayed true to the Church at all times, knowing that it was the Bride of Christ and the only means of salvation. He was very good with evangelizing non-Catholics and Catholics alike, and brought a very impressive number of people into the Church while working with St. Benedict Center. He was devoted to Our Lady. 

On a lesser note, he was a distinguished writer of children's poetry, as well as philosophical topics.

I wish I could be more like Fr. Feeney in all of those above characteristics. His bravery and devotion truly inspire me and resonate within my soul. I am a fairly bold apologist and I don't let people walk all over me or the Church, but I certainly could take a lesson or two from Fr. Feeney in many respects.

You may also recall that he is the founder of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart, whose (reform) order I am seriously discerning. Your prayers are GREATLY appreciated during this process.


My other new favorite person is (drum-roll pleeeeease!)

Myself with +Bp. Edward Scharfenberger,
Bishop of Albany

MY NEW BISHOP!!! (So now you know what my Diocese is... LOL)

+Bp. Scharfenberger was ordained and installed Bishop of Albany on April 10th, and I was there. He is a fantastic Bishop, and EXACTLY what this Diocese needs.

Bishop Scharfenberger is an amazing example to all Catholics of this Diocese. We have been in serious need of a Schepherd (yes that was intentional) for so long (thirty. eight. years.) and the one that God gave us is just right for the job (read his credentials in my post about his Ordination)! But not only that, he has the right attitude and knows how to encourage us. He addressed youth at his Ordination, saying, "Never be afraid of being holy."

+Bp. Scharfenberger is accessible and close to the people, but also dignified.

I rest my case about the "dignified" thing...

That above picture is of him, blessing the congregation as he leaves the Sanctuary after the Extraordinary Form Confirmation. That's right. He celebrated Confirmation in EF. This hasn't happened in decades in this Diocese! He was extremely willing to participate in this ceremony, and not only that, he knew how to celebrate it! He knew the prayer for Confirmation by heart and didn't even have to glance at the book. He knew exactly what to do with the bread and lemons following the Confirmation of the 17 candidates. He chanted the prayers beautifully (his voice is stunning). AND! He agreed to come back and celebrate a Sunday EF for us.

The day before the Confirmation, he led an estimated 1,000 pro-LIFE people (most if not all of them Catholics) in a pro-life Rosary Walk around the Capitol of our State.

People fill Historic St. Mary's Church nearly to 
capacity on Tuesday, June 17th.

+Bp. Scharfenberger leads Catholics in the 
Rosary as they process around the 
Capitol of Albany, NY.

This is a great event that has been LONG overdue for our Diocese. Our previous Bishop refused to do anything of the sort. We need a great witness like +Bp. Scharfenberger.

I mentioned earlier that he's really involved with the people and wants to be personal with them, but in a dignified manner. This is also greatly needed in this Diocese. He took the opportunity this weekend to visit my parish (of all parishes, MINE!) to celebrate Corpus Christi with us. He celebrated Holy Mass and then led the Church in a Eucharistic procession. Below are some pictures:

This is a great size Procession for this little town!!

My friend Michael incensing the Way of the Lord.

My spiritual direcor, the Bishop, our Deacon, and 
Michael in front of the Blessed Sacrament 
following the Procession.

+Bp. Scharfenberger holds Christ.

His homily was wonderful for Corpus Christi...

... and he stayed long enough to greet the parishioners, get pictures with a few, and let me kiss his ring (although that's the first time I've done that, and was really nervous, so thus didn't really know what to say afterwards. I think I said something like, "Thanks?" LOL). 

My friend happened to get a picture as I was getting up...

I have developed a very deep reverence, respect, and love for our new Bishop in a short amount of time. He deserves it, he acts the part, and he gives us a reason to be so disposed. He does things by the book, but is personable in a way that will keep people from being scared by him. He is holy, and encourages others to be so as well. 

So, in conclusion (English professors about to beat me over that one...), my 2 new favorite people are (Catholics, of course!!!) Fr. Feeney and +Bp. Scharfenberger. Both of them are bold, in love with the Faith, and are great examples to all of us.

Please pray for my Bishop and my Diocese!

Monday, June 16, 2014

71. In, Not Of

I recently joined the choir for my Extraordinary Form community. I've been singing in organized, professional choirs for years, as well as performing as a classical soprano soloist for a number of years, but I just recently took the plunge and decided to sing with the choir there. The EF Confirmation with our new Bishop is this Wednesday, so we had an extra rehearsal this evening to go over the chants and hymns that we would be singing in just a few days.

This particular church is a large, expansive space, with floors that bounce sound along like flat rocks skipping  smoothly over a still river. My footsteps resounded as I left the church, along with another member of the choir, a soprano. We opened the heavy wooden door only to be confronted with the hustle and bustle of the city. The hum of car engines, the yelling of neighbors, and in the distance were faint sirens. But the most prevalent noise was inescapable: the pounding of someone's bass and the loud rap issuing forth from a car, waiting at a red light on the corner. It was as if we stepped into a totally different world, separate and entirely detached from that within the walls of St. Joseph's Church. While the church is quiet, serene, with an emptiness that only echos could fill, the world is so jammed packed with sound and interruptions and stimulants that it has almost a jarring effect on the soul.

My fellow singer gestured to the church and said, "It's always such different music when you step out of there." 

In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays to the Father, saying,

And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves. 
I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world; as I also am not of the world.
I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. 
They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

We often hear "in the world, not of it." This is certainly a very hard concept to enact, but even more so to understand and to come to terms with.
As Catholics, it should be our nature to be counter-cultural. We must be convinced of the evil that exists in the world, and we must be dead set against it. We must be willing to deny ourselves pleasures and luxuries in order to inherit the Kingdom of God. 
What is one way that Catholics (in general) really need to work on this?
You guessed it. 

The Liturgy is NOT about us. It isn't about entertainment, about being friendly, and about the good feelings we may get (not that good feelings are bad. God gave them to us for a reason, but we must exercise our discernment along with our feelings). The Liturgy and all actions that take place within the walls of a church are about GOD! And newsflash to Catholics, YOU ARE NOT GOD.
Don't complain because the songs are "boring," or "not upbeat." Don't be upset when someone doesn't shake your hand at the Sign of Peace. Don't be unwilling to kneel for the very few minutes of the Consecration once a week (my assumption is that if one who is able to kneel doesn't wish to kneel on Sundays, they won't bother finding reasons to go to more than one Mass a week).Don't complain that "the priest is turning his back on us." You're thinking like the world thinks. Don't think of it like that, but rather realize that he is facing GOD, around Whom this whole world revolves. Don't be slothful in your manner of worshiping the God Who was certainly not slothful in your intricate creation!

The sacredness of the Liturgy and all things Catholic serves two purposes. For God, absolutely. But also for us!

Humans are both body and soul (part of what makes us SO SPECIAL). The body has senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) that influence the soul. The Liturgy and other such things (like the Rosary or Eucharistic Adoration) are supposed to be extremely different from our daily encounters with the "outside world." It's how we disconnect from the world that is so full of self-indulgent sin, and connect with God Who is true Peace, Happiness, and Goodness. The difference is to make us understand that what goes on within the walls of a church is SACRED, is SET APART, is NOT NORMAL. For example, churches aren't supposed to be modeled after living rooms because what goes on within a church is nothing like what goes on in a living room. Most living rooms don't have a sacred altar where God is called upon to dwell in the form of bread and wine.

THIS is why church architecture matters. THIS is why sacred music matters. THIS is why the Liturgy must be celebrated reverently and with radiant love for the Blessed Sacrament. Not only does all of this honor and glorify God (which is its main purpose), but it brings our souls to a better understanding and realization of the wonders of God, and thus brings us deeper into contemplation and into a richer LOVE for God.

We need to constantly be reminded that there is life after this one, that God is real, and that His Glory is unimaginable. If we remove the reminders from our churches and our lives as Catholic Christians, where on earth will we find it?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

70. Satan hates the TLM

It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us that Satan HATES the TLM.


Just like any other Mass, the TLM is centered around God and His Son's Sacrifice. Satan must tremble as people gathered at the altar recount the Paschal Mystery wherein Jesus conquered the grave and opened the Gates of Heaven to mankind. But what's more, the TLM is extremely reverent, and unfortunately it is oftentimes far more reverent than the "ordinary" NO Mass (Which is a distinction which should NOT be able to be made if the NO is said correctly!). The TLM gathers youth, unites them in deep contemplative prayer, and catechizes people on the Catholic Faith and Traditions. All of these things surely anger Satan, as they draw souls away from him, and unite them with God.

Hoc Est Enim Corpus Meum

Now in our current state in the USA, the TLM has taken a backseat. It's been pushed aside and made to seem like a "minority's Mass." The case at Holy Innocents is example enough. The predicted closing of a flourishing parish is frightening. And I (along with many others) suspect that it is due to its daily hosting of an Extraordinary Form. Also related to the issue at Holy Innocents is the removal from ministry of Fr. Wylie, a priest from South Africa. He recently delivered a homily, essentially about the second-class-citizenship of TLM-attendees and their need for priests. This seems to be the spark that initiated his removal, and is facilitating the closing of the Church.

Holy Innocents NYC

You may recall that I was trying to organize a TLM for my NO parish to commemmorate Divine Mercy Sunday this year. It fell through because Satan hates the TLM. There are only 3 priests in my whole diocese who know how to celebrate the TLM, and are willing to do so. The day after Easter, one of these priests (not surprisingly, the one we had asked to come celebrate the following Sunday) was accused of inappropriate contact with a minor. This came as a huge shock because this priest is recently ordained, is extremely holy, and celebrates the TLM. He was removed from ministry immediately. Not only were we forced to cancel the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration, but my TLM parish had to scramble to fill the schedule. Mondays, and half of the Sundays were now in need of a priest. The hearing date has been delayed twice thus far, which means that we have been almost 2 months without this holy priest, and 2 months with a lot of stress on the EF community here in the Diocese.

The first TLM in my parish in about 40+ years

Another instance of Satan working against the TLM is the very recent attack on two FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) priests in Phoenix, AZ. One newly ordained priest was killed, and another priest (with more years as consecrated) was injured in what appears to be a burglary. The part that strikes me as odd, though, is that the assault didn't take place in the church, but in the priests' living quarters. If someone were to break into church property to steal something, wouldn't you think they'd try the church first, especially since it usually is adorned with expensive, gold objects? Hmmm. 

These are only a few cases and examples of how Satan hates the TLM and wants to destroy it. My advice to you? Don't stop going to the TLM. Don't stop loving the Lord. Don't let Satan hinder you from becoming closer to God and to His Church. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

69. Interpretation and the Three-Legged Stool

A while back, you may recall, I was attending RCIA classes with a young lady. Many of the teachers and sponsors were around when the Second Vatican Council (VII for short) took place and/or took effect, so they talked about the changes (and in my opinion, didn't give a very accurate depiction, but I taught my candidate separately). One of the things that they harped on a lot was that before VII, they "weren't allowed to read the Bible for fear of misinterpretation." They made it sound like, "Those misogynistic old men wouldn't let us read the Scriptures! How oppressive of them" These are the same old ladies (and one "Sister" in lay clothes) that constantly referred to the Extraordinary Form ("Old Mass") as if it was some ancient, nonsensical frivolous thing, and thank God we don't have THAT any more!  .  .  . Ahem.

Moving along...

I never really had an answer or rebuttal for why they thought that they weren't allowed to read Scripture before, or why the Church would suddenly lift her arm on that.

As I was driving to Mass yesterday, I was listening to a Lighthouse Catholic Media CD titled "Set All Afire; Why the Church Still Matters," a CD that gives a sample of many other CDs on various topics. One of the excerpts was from Patrick Madrid's CD, "Why I am Catholic When I Could be Anything Else." I was struck by something that Patrick said.

(This exercise might be harder to do since you're reading rather than listening, but let's give it a go) He gave us the phrase, "I never said you stole money." 6 words. How many different ways could someone interpret (or misinterpret) that phrase?

I never said you stole money.
(Someone else said so!)
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
(I might've thought it though!)
I never said you stole money.
(I said that the shady guy stole it.)
I never said you stole money.
(You borrowed it!)
I never said you stole money.
(You stole a lamp instead!)

... See what I mean?

So how do we interpret Scripture, if we can't even be sure that we are interpreting this 6-word phrase correctly? That's what TRADITION is for! The Catholic Church complied the Bible. She knows what it's supposed to mean, and without her guidance, we can be left in the dark and be liable to misinterpret the very Word of God! We need the Church's Tradition in order to shape the way that we read Scripture and in order to not misinterpret it.

Look at the Protestants! Their heresies are founded on misinterpretation of Scripture and lack of Tradition! We do not want to fall into the same pit that they're in, and risk losing our eternal inheritance in Heaven.

It's important that we listen to Holy Mother Church with regards to the Scripture and interpretation of it. It would be terrible if a Catholic (or anyone, really), misinterpreted something so fundamental to our Faith as the Real Presence in the Eucharist, or Jesus' command to his Apostles, "whatever sins you forgive are forgiven..." And most importantly, it would be absolutely HORRIBLE if someone misinterpreted Jesus' words and thought that he was ONLY man, and was simply a wise preacher. That is what Tradition and the Magesterium are for; to guide us into the light and to help us understand the Scriptures.


(Now for a little analogy) Scripture, Tradition, and Magesterium work together like the legs of a 3-legged stool, supporting the Church.
If one leg is removed, there is no possible way (unless the sitter is extremely balanced. We know that as human beings, we are faulty and thus not very well balanced. This is part of the reason why Jesus gave us the Church.) for the stool to not topple over.

Just as we have the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we have the three-legged support system of the Church: Tradition, Scripture, and the Magesterium. To remove the Holy Ghost from the Trinity would be impossible (because He IS), but not only that, it would set us off balance, off kilter, and we surely would be left in the dark without His Guidance. 

The Church's Tradition and Magesterium help us to better understand Scripture.  If it wasn't for the Doctrines and Dogmas guiding our understanding of the Scriptures, we could be lost! What if we (like many other misinformed people) read the Gospel and mistook them for saying that Jesus had brothers and sisters? Thus one could assume that Mary was not perpetually a virgin! That's a huge heresy, and that's why the Church, in her Wisdom, gives us guidance and steering in the direction of the Truth, since she literally possesses It (In the Eucharist, as well as in the Word of God).

Why not........ .... TRADITION!

Monday, June 9, 2014

68. My Impression of the Taj Mahoney

Back while I was in California, I mentioned in my post titled "Traveling" that I would write about my experience with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (AKA the Taj Mahoney) in LA.

I'm sure you all were anxiously awaiting my post.... JK

Before you all jump down my throat about "don't judge a book by its cover," and "don't be so focused on the external," please keep in mind that we as beings are both soul AND body, and the exterior matters to our interior disposition. Not to mention, it portrays visibly our ideas of God and what He deserves. So, here we go:

As you approach the Cathedral, it looks more like a mall than a house of God. If you happen to miss the cross-shaped design on the side, you might mistake it for a shopping center or office building. It's plain and unadorned, and not only that, there are very few signs that advertise the Cathedral. I didn't notice the cross design until I was heading in. 

From the road/highway
It's a shopping center look-alike

With regards to the shopping center-ness of the space, it not only looks the part, but sports a café, garden, gift shop, and a very large (creepy...) parking garage. Even in my very liberal diocese, our Cathedral is not home to a café. That's just ridiculous and out of place.

From the website: 
"Spanish architect, Professor José Rafael Moneo has designed a dynamic, contemporary Cathedral with virtually no right angles. This geometry contributes to the Cathedral's feeling of mystery and its aura of majesty [no, you're getting that confused with architecture that makes you think of the Glory and Beauty of God, like this:
]...The challenge in designing and building a new Cathedral Church was to make certain that it reflected the diversity of all people [yes, let's be people-centered]. Rather than duplicate traditional designs of the Middle Ages in Europe [I'd like to see someone try to duplicate anything of that style. They're all so unique and intricate!], the Cathedral is a new and vibrant expression of the 21st century Catholic peoples of Los Angeles [the purpose of distinct architecture is to draw people out of the world and out of the times, not to remind them of it]."

There are only a few statues or representations on the exterior of the Cathedral. One of them being:
This is supposed to be Mary. It looks more like an Egyptian or pagan god to me...

The interior is very modern and plain, with bare walls, no statues, and hardly any holy images. The only thing reflective of the Catholic Faith would be the long tapestries hanging along the wall depicting Saints. It's very drab, boring, and not very inspiring to me at all. 

Looking up, you see a mixture of crooked walls and seemingly misplaced windows. It looks very messy and thrown together, instead of planned for the Glory of God. 

The in-the-round setup gives the impression that we are not joined with the priest offering the sacrifice, but that we are spectators at a human event for entertainment, one that is centered around the "performer," AKA the priest. Another reason for ad orientem... It's highly distracting to have other church-goers in your field of vision, facing you, as you witness the sacrifice. In my opinion, in-the-round is FAR worse than the versus populum arrangement. But of course, ad orientem is the BEST.


You may have seen this image floating around of the consecration of a new altar:

look familiar?
That's the (of course, wonderfully square) altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. And oh, how nice that those "nuns" were able to participate. ... Get them off the altar. SMH.

When the Cathedral was being constructed, there were a couple of objections regarding the amount of money spent on it. In total, $250 million were spent on this Cathedral.

$1 million was spent for a tabernacle that nobody sees because...


Jesus is in a closet

And let's be honest. That tabernacle is hideous anyway.

The Confessionals are very odd. I went to Confession  there on a Friday before Mass. The doors are actually wooden slabs with square-shaped (well, what other shape would they use?) holes throughout. You can kind of see the penitent if they're sitting face-to-face. Surprisingly, they also offer Confession through a screen. That's a plus. 

Note the hol-ey doors

The floor of the Church is slanted so it gives the impression of an arena or a movie theatre more than a Church where the altar is supposed to be slightly elevated and is to be the focal point... 

And how could I write about this without bringing up my pet peeve. There is a ridiculously unnecessary number of EMHCs. I went on a Friday for noon Mass, and there was a swarm of EMHCs that gathered around the altar for Communion time. Although I was (unfortunately) parked in one of the sections flanking the altar, I walked all the way around the Church (in my mantilla. I have no shame.) to receive from the priest. I refuse to receive from unconsecrated hands unless completely necessary. Period.

What's surprising is the fact that, despite the huge number of EMHCs, the liturgy itself that I witnessed was not all that bad. It was a typical Novus Ordo. I honestly expected a Mass filled with abuses, whereas this one wasn't perfect, but was live-through-able. 

Check out the Wikipedia page about the Cathedral for details...

Thanks for reading my rant-style review. ;)