Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Father - are you still alive?

Some may be wondering if I'm still alive.

I apologize for not posting for a long time, but I've been on vacation.

For two weeks, I was in Colorado on a trip for high school students that my Dad has been leading for 35 years.

morning prayer, hiking, adventure, daily Mass, campfire reflections - it's an amazing experience.


Following the end of my Dad's trip, I immediately drove to St. Meinrad where we have our every other year gathering of priests of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  It is a beautiful opportunity to gather with brother priests and our Archbishop.  We share in good conversation, recreation time, we pray a lot together, concelebrate Mass together - very renewing!


And, beginning tomorrow afternoon, the remainder of my June vacation will focus on helping my brother Deacon Anthony Hollowell as he prepares to be ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ this Saturday at 10 am at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis.


Please keep the students and staff from my trip, the priests of the Archdiocese, and finally my brother in prayer during this month of June.

God bless!












Monday, May 23, 2016

Why I Don't Pray Eucharistic Prayer I Much Anymore

I'm not sure why, but in my early years as a priest, I thought of praying Eucharistic Prayer I (the longest one...we honor Linus, Cletus, Sixtus...) as a way to show that I was an orthodox priest, and likewise I viewed praying Eucharistic Prayer II (the shortest) as somehow inferior.

I now hardly ever pray Eucharistic Prayer I, but I have reasons other than just "well, I'm getting older now, and I've been in the trenches a while, and I'm just chilling out a little bit"


One more comment by way of introduction: put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants to check out Catholicism for the first time.  We HAVE to have something to give guests at Mass which allows them to follow along, from beginning to end, that tells them when to sit and stand, what the Mass parts are, what the Eucharistic Prayer is, what our policy on receiving Communion is, etc.  I have come to believe this is really important.  I have been donating the printing costs for these at my parishes because I feel it is super important.

So, in order to have something to give to parishioners and guests alike that will allow them to follow along in this fashioin, the Eucharistic Prayer cannot be a week to week choice - one has to be chosen that will be used for as long as those particular booklets are going to be passed out to people coming to Mass.


All that being said, there are a couple of very intentional reasons I don't pray Eucharistic Prayer I much

1) There are a TON of theological concepts in Eucharistic Prayer I.  Each sentence could be prayed over for hours!  In fact, when I did my retreat to prepare for my priestly ordination, I prayed over various phrases and words from Eucharistic Prayer I over the course of 5 days.

Most people do not have 5 days for a retreat on a particular Eucharistic Prayer, but I do think the parish should have opportunities to intentionally reflect on the particular words of a Eucharistic Prayer through a day of reflection and/or homilies, and that particular prayer should be used consistently for an extended period so as to reinforce the concepts.

2)  Eucharistic Prayer I is really long.  And I say this not out of laziness but as an objective fact.  It is probably 7-8 minutes longer than Eucharistic Prayer II.  If you are going to encourage people to prayerfully reflect over the concepts of a particular Eucharistic Prayer, it seems to make sense to start with the shortest of them, which is Eucharistic Prayer II.  

I also think the length is important because you need to build up to a more lengthy prayer.  

We live in a culture where, let's be honest, one of the most notable things people point to when talking about Mass at various parishes is the length of time Mass takes at that parish.

I'm not saying we cater to that, but I do think we need to recognize that to the AVERAGE people in the pew today, that's the most important thing, so why not start with a shorter Mass and, over time, build up to a more lengthy Eucharistic Prayer?   It isn't like Eucharistic Prayer II is invalid, it is a prayer of the Church too, so it isn't like Eucharistic Prayer II is a "settling for less" anyway.  Thinking that way (as I did as a younger priest) is very dangerous and wrong.



3) Eucharistic Prayer I was written to be prayed silently (and thus much faster).  For hundreds of years, Eucharistic Prayer I was the ONLY option for priests.  In the Traditional Latin Mass the "Eucharistic Prayer" was prayed silently by the priest to allow people to be praying in the midst of silence.  (As a side note, as our world gets louder, I think people would love this option today - priests pray the Eucharistic Prayer silently so we can have some more silence at Mass).

If you have ever prayed a rosary silently vs. out loud, you realize things get prayed faster silently - and "faster" doesn't necessarily imply "more irreverently" at all - in fact we've probably all been somewhere where someone was praying TOO slow, to the point that the SLOWNESS was a distraction.  That prayer is quicker when prayed silently does not have any implications for the prayer's efficacy or reverence.

I pray Mass in the older form and obviously in the new form, and Eucharistic Prayer II prayed out loud is about the same length as Eucharistic Prayer I prayed silently.  



In summary, I plan to build up to Eucharistic Prayer I, but it is a multi-year process.  Even when I get to the point where I would pray Eucharistic Prayer I, I would still rotate among the three prayers as they are all beautiful and have different phrases and concepts that we need to be reminded of.  

Trinity: The Holy Spirit will speak what He has heard!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fun Election Game

Let's say there are 2 candidates for president

Candidate 1 is pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research, pro-partial birth abortion and pro-gay "marriage"

Candidate 2 - claims to be against all those things above



Assuming that you would never vote for candidate 1, what would Candidate 2 have to say or do in order for you NOT to vote for either candidate?


It is a fascinating question.   Feel free to leave a list of things that you would consider to disqualifiers for candidate 2

Awesome talk at my parish on sacred music




This was given by Mr. Edward Atkinson, our director of sacred music

"we've got work to do!" - Homily for Pentecost

Monday, May 9, 2016

On the Catholic Option to Not Vote

Yes, the Catechism says:


But the Catechism is not meant to be exhaustive of options in every situation, and so the Bishops of the US, in expanding on the particular issue of voting, note in paragraph 36 of "Faithful Citizenship":

"When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate"


This actually is perfectly in line with Catholic teaching because one can easily imagine a scenario where both candidates are heinous options.  Imagine a scenario (just for illustrative purposes) where Stalin and Hitler are the two names on the ballot

The Church would never COMPEL us to pick one in that instance, and if there is an instance where it is possible to not vote, then that proves that the Bishops are correct - it is POSSIBLE to not vote


The only question left to discern, then, is whether or not THIS PARTICULAR ELECTION is one in which a person feels they can vote for one of the candidates or not


The thing about discernment, though, is that you can't do it for someone else and no one can do it for you.  I hear a lot of people saying "A Catholic has to vote for candidate ________ in order to stop candidate ___________, you can't sit this election out or it is a sin."


That is patently untrue.  Not voting is NOT NECESSARILY a sin, and each person has to pray and decide, in each election, whether they can in good conscience vote for ANY of the candidates.

Trump - the national version of Indiana's Richard Mourdock

In the Tea Party surge in 2012, Richard Mourdock upset long time Indiana senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary.  Lugar had served admirably in a long and distinguished career, but Mourdock won over voters with promises to

"shake up Washington as an outsider"
"take on the Republican establishment"
etc. etc.


Mourdock won the primary and then got DESTROYED in the general election by Democratic moderate Joe Donnelly. (Donnelly won handily in a race that was supposed to be a slam dunk for the Republicans)


It was Mourdock's mouth that got him into trouble, as he failed miserably in debates, and, most disastrously, at one point implied that rape could be intended by God.



Guess what, Republicans in Indiana learned a hard lesson, but they won't nominate someone like Mourdock for a long, long time.  They learned that electability ACTUALLY MATTERS, and that you can't put someone up for general election just because they promise to go burn the establishment down.  Any crazy person can promise to go burn everything down.



And I think the same thing will happen with Donald Trump.

1) He's promised to burn down the establishment (Democrats and Republicans)
2) He says completely asinine statements that defy reality
3) He will be destroyed in a general election
4) Nationally, Republicans will learn the hard lesson that electability actually matters


After Trump is destroyed in the general election, a lot of Trump supporters will go back to not voting and will disappear from politics, and the rest of the Republicans drinking the Trump Koolaid at the moment will sober up, do their penance for getting behind a mad man, and will all make promises to never do anything like nominating Trump ever again.

The Ascension - hope amidst departures

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bishops Against Trump????

In the months leading up to the election in November, I have a prediction in the Catholic world - we will hear bishops coming out, in very thinly veiled ways, against Donald Trump.

I certainly understand that - the man has said things about women, torturing the FAMILIES of terrorists, etc. that would certainly cause me to speak up if I were a bishop.  A bishop SHOULD speak out against a man like Trump.

It undercuts whatever political credibility the Church's bishops have, however, when bishops who did NOT speak out in thinly veiled ways against politicians who actively support and encourage abortion on demand, redefining marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc.


If you are a Catholic leader who condemns all those who stray horribly from what the Church encourages, I'll listen to your criticism of Trump.  If you are a Church leader that only calls on the carpet people from one side of the political aisle, perhaps that leaders politics are more important than the Church's teachings????




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Flaws of Moral "Puzzles"

When I was in college, I had professors try to deconstruct and demolish Christianity, and they did so primarily through "morality puzzles"


You are a Jewish mother of an infant child
You and 50 jews are hiding in a basement
The nazis come to the door
Your baby starts crying...what would you do...

And then their statement: "see, sometimes it is okay to kill children"


But these "morality puzzles" are, in a word, dumb


The option a Catholic should take in the above "puzzle" is "I'm not killing my child.  If my crying child leads the Nazi's to find us, and then, when they find us, they also then decide to kill us, guess who that is on...THEM."


People who try to deconstruct the Church's moral teachings are always using these puzzles, but they are always ridiculous.s



A friend recently asked me one of these puzzles in response to my statement that I don't see how I will be voting for president in 2016

"A car is burning
You can only save 3 of the 4 people
1) call 911 (takes too long, all will die)
2) Grab people out yourself knowing that you can save at most 3 persons
or 3) do nothing and watch them all burn to death"


This puzzle, again, presents false options

No one, in the above scenario, would know any of the parameters as the person has laid it out

I would call 911 because no angel would be standing there saying "Don't call 911, it won't work"
I would then run and start trying to pull people out because again no angel would be there saying "you can only save at most 3 of the 4"
I would also note that the above choice would be one I think I would make, but it would be what the Church would consider "heroic virtue" in that you are not REQUIRED by the Church or God's laws to run toward a burning car and try and save people


So to answer the question, this is the way people try to deconstruct Catholic moral reasoning, but it is deeply flawed