DOMINUS PARS HÆREDITATIS MEÆ

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deathto1962 said: Burke isn’t a traditionalist.

And does that really matter to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who founded the Church upon Peter and promised it continual, divine protection?

Liberal, conservative, radical, traditionalist….in Catholic life and fighting, these are all titles conferred by the world according to the group a person runs around with and the politics they get involved with. These titles have nothing to do with the Church being conserved by Christ in the gifts of infallibility, invincibility, and indefectibility.

Personally, I’d rather my bishops be Christian and holy, and act in the role of the Christian that they claim to be.

Our beloved pets…

Six years ago, on September 16th, I was at the veterinarian clinic with my beloved German Shepherd, Princess. Of course, when a guy names his female German Shepherd “Princess” it kind of exposes how spoiled and how special she is.

The veterinarian walked in to the consult room to say, “We are very sorry Father. The diagnosis is advanced cancer of the spleen, hemangiosarcoma. She has two large tumors and her blood has completely lost the ability to clot. There are no treatments. She will die today or tomorrow, or a week at the latest.”

I asked what the options are, and they said, “We can euthanize her now or you can take her home and make her comfortable.” I left with Princess and took her home and she died a week later. 

So when people send me messages about their beloved pets dying and are besides themselves in grief, confusion, and despair, I know exactly what you are going through. There are. No. Words. It is the awfullest of the awful to have to go through.

So if you tell me that you don’t think dogs go to heaven, I will give you a polite note of disagreement. I will say something theological. But at my keyboard, I will look at your avatar and shoot death rays at you from across virtual reality, while I fantasize of shooting you with “force lightening” like the emperor did to Luke Skywalker on Star Wars LOL.

Yeah, don’t tell me dogs don’t go to heaven.

Not a good idea. No. Don’t mess with the memory of a beloved pet. 

God bless you, and your beloved creatures who bring you so much joy without ever having to utter a word.

Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis…

The rumors are flying that Pope Francis is about to “demote” the American Cardinal, Raymond Burke, by removing him as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature (a funny name for the Church’s highest court).

Supposedly, Cardinal Burke has fallen out of favor with Pope Francis by dressing in fancy robes, doing too much stuff in Latin, and acting and saying too many “conservative” or “tradcat” things. Because, like, you know, the Pope, they say, doesn’t like “old fashioned Catholic stuff” LOL.

Traditional Catholics will weep and gnash their teeth and cries of despair will rise that “Catholic Tradition is being attacked” by Pope Francis. Liberal and dissenting Catholics, on the other hand, will have jolly and happy feels as their twisted sense of revenge goes into overdrive. I can hear it now, “We LUV how Pope Francis exacts his revenge on all the traditional crowd of Pope Benedict XVI.”

Both of these attitudes betray a very shallow spirituality and forget a central tenet of Holy Orders.

Bishops and priests have the awesome privilege of being entrusted with the care of souls, with feeding the flock in our preaching and counsel, and nourishing people in liturgy and sacrament. We are NOT entitled to special offices in the Church. Our vocation is NOT to have nice titles and to wield political power.

Does Jesus care about who Pope Francis appoints to Vatican offices or his “gang of eight” adviser cardinals? Oh, yeah, Jesus loses sleep over who is going to head up a Vatican department (sarcasm). The answer is no.

What the Lord calls His priests to do is minister with their time, talents, and treasure, to the needs of the parish, the diocese, the national conference, or at a wider level, the Roman Curia of the Pope in Rome. It is nice to get appointed to some fancy office. I am the pastor of a country parish, which is fancy enough for me.

And when we are no longer needed, our superior, our bishop, or our pope calls us and says, “Thanks, but your services are no longer needed. I’m bringing someone else in.” Fine. Thanks. I’ll pack up my office.

Life goes on. I have to offer Mass, prepare homilies, keep up contacts with friends in the Church, visit sick people or counsel the hurting, and in the case of a bishop, run around and confirm people and ordain priests. And before you know it, even the pope or the bishop or the superior moves on and things change and the Church continues.

We in Holy Orders are not entitled to special powers, offices, titles, and political prestige. And when we “rise” in the Church and acquire these things, they are more of a pain in the arse than a blessing. I’m sure it is a shock for most bishops when they get “promoted” or “demoted” but that doesn’t have anything to do with true religion. True religion is to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

I just thought I’d get my two cents in before the libs and the trads either get their jollies or freak out on this latest decision of Pope Francis in regards to a “Benedict man” in the Vatican. It’s all good folks. God is good.

The funeral of a priest’s dad

Today I am attending a funeral. The man who died is the father of a priest who is my classmate from seminary. 

In the seminary, when you are good friends with another seminarian, his family often “adopts” you to the point you go over their house, have sleepovers, even travel with the guy’s family.

Father John’s dad was such a wonderful, supportive dad when John was a seminarian—so different from my dad, who hated it when I entered the seminary (although he became supportive later on).

In the seminary, we thought of ourselves as kids, and really, we were. We depended on our parents financially, for studies, for travel, for vacations, and for lots of advice on how to handle seminary studies, vocations crises, and staying connected to family while branching out and becoming the adults we had to be in order to be priests.

Our parents were the age that we are now. It was more than 30 years ago that Fr. John entered the seminary, and I think his dad was around 50 at that time. To us, that was OLD. Now, that’s ME.

When you are a priest, and your brother priests that you were in the seminary with, start to lose their parents, you know you have turned a corner.

Years ago, decades ago, John’s dad and mom would pull up to the seminary and our close circle of friends knew we were going to be treated to a nice dinner out somewhere, because John’s dad was very kind and generous and had the money to treat us. I can’t count the times that the man would be so kind to John’s friends, and how many times he entertained them on weekends home from the seminary.

Now, today, we are burying him. And we who were once young seminarians, college kids, babies, are now grown, running our own churches, and playing mentor and pastor to seminarians coming up the pike. And now, we are burying the parents of priests who just yesterday seemed like healthy adults.

This is when you will now that you are ‘grown up” for sure—when going to the funerals of your friends’ parents is not rare but a common occurrence. And one day, you are no longer fighting with your mom or dad and telling them to quit treating you like a kid and caring for you like a baby. One day, you wake up, and you are caring for them. They, your mom and dad, become your babies who are aged and weak, retired and getting around slowly, and they look up to you for guidance.

Then, you get that call, like Fr. John did a few days ago—to come home immediately, to come home quickly. I thank God I can make it to the funeral and comfort my brother priest—and tell him that although many years have passed, I still haven’t forgotten how good his dear old dad was to us when we were babies and brats trying to make it through the seminary.

Hi there Father, I recently picked up a booklet in church that advised me to consecrate my room to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It said I could find prayers online. Could you possibly explain to me what doing this would entail and mean? Would I have to do anything else (eg hang up a picture)?

Hello,

In Sacred Scripture, all the earth is seen as belonging to God. Thus, it would seem useless or insignificant to build churches, shrines, altars, sanctuaries, temples, and sacred dwelling tents. After all, isn’t God everywhere?

Well, the answer is that although it is true that everything belongs to God and that God’s Spirit is present to all places, nonetheless we should set aside and dedicate special places and invoke God’s blessing and abiding Presence to come into those places. This is our way of acknowledging God’s supreme dominion. 

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob built altars and offered their first fruits. Melchizedek, high priest, blessed Abraham’s gifts as a thanks to God. Moses removed his shoes from His feet when he walked close to God, because he was on holy ground, and later would spill the blood of a spotless lamb in order to sanctify the people, and the ground they gathered on near the Ark. David commanded the Ark of the Covenant to be kept in a special tent. His son King Solomon built the first great Temple in Jerusalem and then offered thousands of sacrifices over a period of several days in order to bless and dedicate the Temple as a house of worship and a dwelling place for the Ark.

And once we have acknowledged that God is supreme, and we give him some physical space, we have exercised a pious and religious act which pleases God. This Jewish practice of dedicating and consecrating special places and buildings comes from the laws of the Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A building dedicated to worship and holy rituals is a symbol of the people of God, who like the building, are also consecrated and sanctified.

Catholics inherit from ancient Israel and the law of Moses this sense of handing over, setting aside, and dedicating certain spaces, and places, to render tribute, honor, and gory.to God—and to acknowledge His dominion over our lives. A “consecration” of a home or space to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Catholic development of the tradition of biblical blessing and dedication of certain lands and buildings.

Simply put, it is an outward acknowledgement that in your home, in your life, Jesus is Lord. It is saying to Jesus that He can come and take possession of whatever He wants, whenever He wants, because it all belongs to Him. Also, it is an invocation of His divine protection, so that by surrendering a certain space to God, you can count on the Lord giving you further light and His approval to your labors, efforts, and actions carried in that space or home that is consecrated.

A consecration is also a setting aside of a certain place so that the activity carried out there will be godly and filled with justice and Christian love. Jesus said to learn from Him, for He is meek and gentle of heart. Our prayer to consecrate a home, apartment, or dorm room to the Sacred Heart of Jesus manifests a desire to repent of sin and turn toward virtue in that consecrated space.

As a memento or outward sign of our prayer of consecration, it is most appropriate to hang holy objects, like a crucifix, and also a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It provides an opportunity for us to explain to people the significance of certain holy icons or images.

Also, hanging an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will fulfill the requirement of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary, that He will pour out numerous graces on those who display the image of His Heart and venerate and honor this image in their homes. If a priest or deacon cannot pray the blessing and consecration in your special place, you could do the prayers yourself and later sprinkle the holy later and hang the image where it is honored and treated as a priority in your life. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Life after the weekend in the parish

I started on Friday evening hearing about an hour of confessions, which wasn’t too much actually. In the parish this weekend, I baptized 7 infants on Saturday morning, and then offered a Mass in Spanish for a “quinceañera” or 15 year old girl. Later on, my Bishop dropped by the rectory before going out to celebrate Mass at the mission chapel of St. George in the country. I told the Bishop my back was hurting, and he said he would be fine without me. The parishioners turned out in force for the Bishop’s visit and it turned out to be a great pastoral visit to a full chapel of dairy and ranch workers.

Here in the parish I closed up after some workers hooked internet up to the religious education building. It was searing hot—I think around 103. A driver who was racing a car in town at our fair grounds called me up to go and bless his race car. LOL. That was fun, even in the heat.

Sunday Masses as usual were at 8am, 10:30am, 12noon, and 6pm, with the 12noon being in Spanish. I visited the confirmation classes on Sunday morning and socialized with the charismatic prayer group, that was selling tacos and food after Masses. At Mass in Spanish, we had a blessing for the folks who are now commissioned to take holy Communion to the sick.

The altar servers at the 6pm Mass reminded me that I promised to take them out for hamburgers at the local diner after Mass. That was fun, and they regaled me with stories about football and starting up at the high school for a new school year. On the way back, I stopped at Starbuck’s to buy a bag of coffee beans. I sat outside with the bag and sipped on a cup of coffee, and then got in the car leaving the coffee on the outside table. When I drove back, it was gone. Someone is now enjoying coffee that I bought for them LOL. 

Today I am dragging, like I do on all Mondays. The secretary closes the office on Monday so she can prepare the deposits, do the banking, pay bills, and write into the baptismal register the names and info of the baptized. The phone rings and rings.

A gentleman in the parish wants to commit suicide. An elderly parishioner who is in her late 90’s fell in her home and she is in critical condition. A couple cried to me after Mass because they need to move away and said they have enjoyed being in the parish and will miss me very much. There are a number of prayer needs for some of our unemployed and sick parishioners.

The religious education and confirmation directors wish to meet with me about their books and supplies. I have to prepare some notes tonight for the Altar Society meeting and make sure the hall is set up for their meeting. I have a wonderful group of women who comprise the Altar Society. Before then, I have to head to the printer’s to give final instructions on the new bulletin cover we are having printed up. 

When you think of “parish life” and “parishioners” in a Catholic church, you cannot stereotype or generalize what it is like, and what the people are like. I have just described this past weekend and what I face waking up today, on Monday. The week will bring new issues. The next weekend will be different from this past weekend. 

Church life is a flurry of different people, with different needs and issues, coming together at an intersection that we call the Mass, and the parish grounds. I find it weird that people post comments about their church community as if it can be summed up so easily. That goes for talking about how “wonderful” or how “rotten” your parish is and the people in it. 

The fact of the matter is that if I find my small country parish to be so diverse and with such different journeys and concerns, that there is no way I could ever sum it up easily, then I doubt seriously that any single parishioner from a far less panoramic view could ever box in or stereotype what their parish is like, with any fairness or accuracy.

Is my parish wonderful? Is it rotten? It is neither. It is. My parish is. It’s everything you can describe and it is things you cannot describe, because you cannot see into the souls of the diverse family that is my parish. It is mystery. It is a puzzle. It is hustle and bustle. All I can say for sure is that God is here, in both the spiritual and the mundane. And I am privilege to serve here and take it all in and learn from all of this activity so that I progress in my own road towards the Kingdom.

gettheetoanunnerygo said: Is there some typology to be seen here as well? Raising the serpent on the pole healed the Israelites just raising Christ on the cross provides us with salvation? The serpent representing sin and Christ conquering sin through his crucifixion?

Yes, that is a good point. The Old Testament images are always read by the Church with a view toward the New Testament. The Fathers saw these typologies in a Christological sense.

Personally, I don’t believe the typology of the serpent is that it is sin, but rather, that the serpent is Christ (not the devil of Genesis).

Remember, the serpents were a curse sent by God. Jesus Christ is also spoken of as having become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). And again we read that He who did not know sin became a sin for us, in the sense of being humiliated in disgrace (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Therefore, it is faith in the power of God’s healing that saves. The Israelites had to gaze upon the serpent on the pole—it was not the serpent as an image that saved them and brought healing, but it was the gazing and looking upon that serpent as a reminder of God’s justice which is credited to them as an act of faith. It is their faith that brings healing.

In the image of the Cross, we see the Son of Man make satisfaction for all sin by his violent and humiliating death. He becomes accursed, by being nailed to a tree. But unlike the serpent that prefigured God’s Son, Jesus truly IS God’s Son.

And gazing upon the Son is the act of faith that saves and heals. By seeing that God did not spare His own Son, but allowed him to be a sign of degradation and curse (like the bronze serpent), we become convinced in faith that Jesus is the Savior (“truly, this man was the Son of God!”).

let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The FSSP in Mexico celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross at one of their churches.

The FSSP in Mexico celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross at one of their churches.

I’ve seen this beautiful image on someone else’s blog but I can’t remember who.

I’ve seen this beautiful image on someone else’s blog but I can’t remember who.

“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). September 15 is the feast of the Mother of Sorrows.

O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). September 15 is the feast of the Mother of Sorrows.

Hi Father, God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent so the people could be healed. Why is bronze serpent used to save the israelites? What it means to us today? Thank you Father.

Hello,

There are many ways to interpret that passage. My personal opinion is that the bronze serpent was a reminder to the people of their complaining and ingratitude. 

When the people looked up and saw the bronze serpent, they were reminded of how good God is, and how ungrateful they were, and it moved them to repentance and thanks to God. The psalm today said, “Do not forget the works of the Lord.” Repentance and gratitude is how we respond to grace and are healed from sin. So, God healed them.

God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Hi Father Angel, I hope your day is going well! I had a question about prayer cards: I plan on making a few and I wanted to include prayers on the back (with my own art on the front), am I allowed to write my own prayers or do I need to follow certain regulations? Thank you and God bless.

Hello,

As long as the prayers are reverent and written according to correct doctrine, there is nothing wrong. I think it is a lovely idea for a devout person to write their own prayers. There are impressive books of prayers and devotions which lay people wrote on their own. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Padre Angel! It's been a while. Here's my question, should catechumen bless themselves with Holy Water before & after Mass OR while entering & leaving a church? My understanding is that they shouldn't because they would be "baptizing" themselves.

Hello,

It is impossible to baptize yourself, so that is not a worry or concern.

While holy water is a reminder of baptism, and the catechumen is not yet baptized, there are no church rules which forbid a catechumen from using holy water. If an unbaptized person devoutly blesses themselves with holy water, it is more of a prayerful anticipation of the graces and protection of baptism. 

So, I have no problem with catechumens blessing themselves with the holy water.  God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

At the Union of Brest, the Orthodox population weren't "returning" to the Catholic Church. They "returned" due to political pressure from the Catholic nation of Poland. Martyrs like Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk were killed for not accepting the union. The traditional church of your ancestors is the Orthodox Church. While you retain Orthodox practices, you're still in communion with a Pope who recites the Filioque. The Pope who split communion in 1054. Knowing that, why don't you become Orthodox?

Anonymous

old-time-religion:

The Orthodox and Catholic Churches both have martyrs made by each other.

The Church of my ancestors, and of your ancestors, is the One, Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church.  This Church split in 1054.  I believe in the importance of the Throne of Peter to the Church, and to the salvation of souls.  I believe that so strongly, and am convinced of it.  Just as convinced as you are, against it.  

What you have to realize is that Western and Eastern perspectives on things like infallibility and the Filioque aren’t mutually exclusive (though many elitist EOs will act this way.)  They’re understandings from different perspectives, coming from instances where an issue resulted in defining (“dogmatizing”) a truth in one part of Christendom, when that issue was never brought up in the other part of christendom.  Just because Western and Eastern theology isn’t exactly the same, doesn’t mean we have to choose one or the other.  The Eastern Orthodox have gone above and beyond in professing that they do not hold certain Roman ideas to be true.  In the Eastern Catholic Churches, while we’ve never had an instance where we needed to react (or react in the same way) to certain issues and ideas the Roman Church has, we regard them as part of the greater Christian understanding of truth, and together Eastern and Western theology make up our Catholic faith (there is little “catholicism” within Eastern Orthodoxy, IMHO.)

I have been Orthodox.  Been there, done that.  I learned from the inside that the Eastern Orthodox have their own problems.  As human beings, I don’t know if we can ever know beyond a shadow of a doubt that one way is truth while the other is error.  I choose to stand with the Holy Father in Rome, hand in hand with my Eastern and Western Catholic brothers and sisters.

Michael, this is a very good response. You have taken into account that what often appears to be a conflict or contradiction between Orthodox and Catholics, is a misunderstanding of theology and doctrinal language. Once each side begins to define and dogmatize, it is very possible that they might be saying similar things about God but just using different language. As you said, this has a lot of effect on our perspective. God bless, Fr. Angel