Friday, September 30, 2011

Mass tomorrow for St. Therese

Mass at 8:15 am before first Saturday confessions and adoration which will begin immediately following Mass

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Don't We Have Maracas at Our School Masses?

Homecoming Mass - without music? What does the "full, conscious, and active participation" that Second Vatican Council called for really mean?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fridays With Daniel

From the final chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy:

"Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the LORD showed him all the land."

I suppose it is natural to have a strong affinity for the bishop that ordains you a priest. Most priests that I have talked to, even the ones that strain for positive things to say about the "institutional Church", even they speak fondly of the bishop who ordained them.

My entire priestly ministry to this point has flowed from Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, and anything that I have done as a priest has been done because he has asked me to do so in his stead. How does one say "thank you" for that?

Attending his press conference today was a very thought-provoking experience. I remember back to the day in 1993 when he first arrived in Indy and he came to our home parish. I was able to shake his hand. 9 years later he took me to lunch to talk about me going to the seminary. I remember being terrified as we drove to the Rathskeller, especially given the fact that 20 minutes earlier I didn't know that he knew my name. 8 years later he laid his hands on my head and ordained me a deacon. 8 months after being ordained a deacon, he ordained me a priest and gave me my first assignment.

I have always seen the Archbishop as a fatherly figure in my life. He asked me to go to Rome to study, and I knew my family would be hesitant. To help ease the tension for my family, he offered to come over for dinner and help explain things. In his ordination homily for myself and fathers Peter Marshal and Jeremy Gries, I really felt as if it was my own father speaking to me; that homily was one of the great gifts that I received over the course of my ordinations.

All that being said, the most poignant memory for me concerning the Archbishop will be the Friday afternoons I was able to spend with him last Spring. Following his initial stroke, he was unable to stand and celebrate Mass for himself, so he had a schedule set up which ensured that priests in the area would be present each day to celebrate Mass in his presence while he concelebrated from his chair.

For no other reason than the fact that Cardinal Ritter High School is .8 miles from the Archbishop's house, I was asked to cover Fridays. It worked out well from my end because Friday was the one day where I didn't already have a Mass scheduled.

Every Friday afternoon I'd leave the awesome but hectic (borderline frantic) pace of Cardinal Ritter, make the short drive up Kessler, and walk into the Archbishop's recovery room at his house. I would usually check in with him to see how his progress was going, and as I vested I'd let him know what was new and exciting in my life. After we had caught up, I'd ask him who his Mass was being offered for. Usually the Archbishop offered his Mass up for the priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese. One time I shared with him that I was offering my Mass up for a young lady from Ritter whose grandmother had just died. He told me he would offer up his Mass for the young lady as well.

As Mass would begin, we'd have the usual opening rites and prayer. I would read the readings, and then I would go and kneel before him in his chair and ask for his blessing to proclaim the Gospel. I was always struck by the fact that I was asking the blessing of the man who ordained me to proclaim the Word of God to now proclaim that same Word to him! When the Gospel was done, I would bring to the Archbishop the Gospel so that he could kiss it. Two years earlier the Archbishop, at my ordination, had placed the Book of the Gospels in my hands, and now I was placing it in his.

I rarely offered a homily on those Friday afternoons, but one time I shared a brief reflection, and when I was done he shared his thoughts as well.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, I always slowed down for the line "We pray for our Holy Father Pope Benedict, Our Bishop Daniel" - our Bishop Daniel - the man who I can see right now out of the corner of my eye - the successor of the apostles - humbled by illness and age - "our Bishop Daniel" - I pray it every day, and I mean it every day, but to be praying it there in his presence must have comforted him - I hope his thought as he heard that was "every day, at every altar throughout this Archdiocese, people are praying for me."

After the Eucharistic prayer, I would bring him the Host, which he would hold in his hands, while I held up the other half of the host over the chalice, elevated it, showed both Eucharistic Species to him and said "This is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper" As with the Gospel, he who had anointed my hands to bring the Eucharist to others was now receiving the Eucharist from those same hands. What a mystery!

Sometimes after Mass, the Archbishop would be up for taking an assisted walk around his house. During those occasions, he would place his hands in mine and I would help him walk around the house and help support his weight, especially on the side that struggled after his stroke. In the ordination rite, a priest folds his hands and places those folded hands in front of the bishop as the bishop wraps his hands around the priest's. The priest makes a promise of obedience during that time. Now the role was reversed, and it was the bishop who was placing his hands in mine.

As I would prepare to leave, he always told me two things. "I don't care if you tell people you came here, but make sure you tell them how much I love daily Mass and how much I love the Eucharist." Indeed, he had the tabernacle moved down into his recovery room so that he could pray from his chair at any hour of the day.

This is my chance to make good on his wish. The Archbishop will be remembered for many things, but for me his number one legacy will be his insistence that we all be people of prayer. He preached about it at ordinations, he preached about it at Chrism Masses, he wrote about it in the Criterion, but most importantly, he lived it, and he continues to live it in such a way that everyone who meets him knows he is a man who spends hours a day wrapped in prayer.

Now a man who has spent most of his adult life at the helm of something is having to let go of the reigns as his body has rebelled against him. At the age of 31 he became the rector of Saint Meinrad seminary. Being a rector is a HUGE responsibility. Imagine looking out on a sea of several hundred men and thinking daily "I am responsible for making sure these guys are ready to serve Christ in His Church as priests." He served in that role for many years until he was named the Bishop of Memphis before spending his last 19 years with us as Archbishop. That's a long time to be in charge of something.

The man who has spent his whole priesthood leading now returns to St. Meinrad to spend the final stage of his life as a monk (he mentioned in the press conference that he is renewing his vow of poverty! How awesome is that!). As I sat listening to him speak today, and as I was reflecting on his life thus far, I couldn't help but think of Moses. Moses was in a position of leadership from a very young age. He spent his whole life in charge, for better or worse, and as the final chapter of the Torah recounts, Moses was led up a high mountain to watch those he had led for so long pass into the Promised Land under the leadership of a new person whom he had laid hands on.

This story of Moses is often only viewed from the perspective of punishment, and certainly that is one element of the story as Moses was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land because he failed to trust in God. But I also see Moses propped up against that Rock looking out over the land watching the families and the community that he had led now walking away and pushing on, and I see that as a time where God called Moses aside so that the two of them could spend a day or two alone together. Several times Moses had met God on the mountain top while Moses was in the vigor of life, and at the end of Moses' journey, it only seems fitting that Moses would be forced to retreat from the active life to again spend precious time with his Lord.

I think it is fitting that the Archbishop is retiring to St. Meinrad. For those who have never been, St. Meinrad is on a "mountain top" as well, at least by Indiana standards. It is my belief that God is now calling home His "good and faithful servant" for some time away from the active life so that he may instead spend his final years in what the Church has always considered the highest vocation - that of prayerful contemplation with our Lord. The list of the Archbishop's accomplishments is long, but it may be that one day we will look back and be most thankful for his time spent lifting our Archdiocese up in prayer before the Eucharist these years at St. Meinrad.

This is a short video I put together set to a song whose title is most appropriate - "Go Rest High on that Mountain" by Vince Gill. The song is about someone who has died, and the Archbishop is far from that, but I think the title of the song is fitting for the next stage in his life. I found some photos on the internet of the Archbishop, and I mixed those in with some video footage from his new destination.

Archbishop Buechlein, an extremely inadequate thank you. You will be in our prayers and we know that we will be in yours.

The Archbishop can be reached via snail mail at the following
Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein OSB
200 Hill Drive
Saint Meinrad, IN

I think it would be awesome if he was met by stacks and stacks of thank you's and personal notes when he moves in a few weeks from now.

"Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the LORD showed him all the land"

Full Video of the Archbishop's Press Conference

This is a nice thing for the Archdiocese to post because I think it captures the Archbishop's humility and prayerfulness.

Archbishop Buechlein Retirement Press Conference (2011) from Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Vimeo.

Media Coverage of Archbishop's Retirement

Indianapolis Star
As with Bishop Coyne, I felt the Star did a great job covering the story with this morning's front page story. The only thing I found strange was the inclusion that reitred professor of history Jim Divita (Marian University) predicted that the next archbishop would be "conservative on Church matters and liberal on social issues." Really? How could you make a prediction like that? My only hope is that the professor was offering his HOPE for the next archbishop's leanings, and that it was the reporter who put too much weight behind the guess.

Pre Press Conference TV from Fox 59 AM


Very nice story post interview by WTHR's Kevin Rader

Archbishop's Press Release

I was at a very nicely handled press conference today where the Archbishop announced his retirement. It was interesting that when asked by a reporter about what he felt like his most important accomplishment was he answered very quickly "Catholic schools." Some of the other accomplishments that were mentioned by Bishop Coyne included the raising of over 300 million dollars through capital campaigns, the ordination of 40 priests, the founding of Brute College Seminary which is already over capacity, the opening of holy family homeless shelter, and the increase in vocations under his watch, which he unequivocally attributed to the busy adoration chapels throughout the Archdiocese.

More about the day and the past 19 years to follow. Here is his press release.

Pope Benedict XVI has granted early retirement to the Most Reverend Daniel M. Buechlein, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The announcement was made today by the Vatican and is effective immediately. Archbishop Buechlein has led the Archdiocese of Indianapolis since his appointment as archbishop by the late Pope John Paul II on July 14, 1992.

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishop, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Bishop Coyne will govern the archdiocese until a new archbishop is named.

Archbishop Buechlein, 73, requested the retirement earlier this year due to health issues resulting from a stroke he suffered on March 19, 2011. The normal retirement age for bishops is 75. The stroke was the latest in a series of health issues for Archbishop Buechlein in recent years including a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, which required several months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

In his retirement, Archbishop Buechlein plans to return to southern Indiana to live at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and to rejoin the Benedictine community where he took a solemn profession as a Benedictine monk nearly 50 years ago.

“It has been a joy for me to serve as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for the past 20 years. I want to thank all of the clergy, religious, archdiocesan staff and lay people for the support you have given me over the years,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “You truly have been a blessing to me. With your help and the help of God we have been able to accomplish much.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Press Conference tomorrow at 10 a.m.

There has been a press conference scheduled for the Catholic center at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning. The media will be present along with the priests, deacons, and parish life coordinators. We have been told that it will be an historic announcement for the future of our Archdiocese, but I have no idea what it will be. I am always last in the rumor mill. Regardless of the announcement, we can always pray for the Archbishop and for our entire Archdiocese.

I'll keep you posted, and I'll try to get something written up in the wake of the announcement.

God bless!

Is God Arrogant?

So high are my ways above your ways" ???

Homily from Women's Conference - "He Showed Them His Hands and His Side"

Are Cloistered Sisters and Brothers a Waste of People Who Could Be Working For the Church?

Some say that those who pray for the world in cloistered monasteries and convents are a waste because they could be "doing something" like running a hospital or some other ministry such as teaching or working with the poor. I firmly believe one day in Heaven we will all owe a great deal of thanks to the cloistered religious who pray for us night and day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Movie Reviews (catching up from last weekend as well)

Rated "L" so only for adults, but the review has high praise for the film. Click here to read the review

Rated A-III for adults. Click here to read the review

I Don't Know How She Does It
Rated A-III - acceptable for adults. Click here for the review

The Mill and the Cross
A-III acceptable for adults. Click here for the review

"O" - morally offensive. Click here to read why you would be well served to stay away and instead go to the St. Malachy Country Fair!

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star
"O" Morally Offensive - BOOO! Go to the Malachy Country Fair instead! Click here to read the review

Click here to see why the bishops say you should go to the St. Malachy Country Fair instead.

Straw Dogs
"O" - click here to read why. Did I mention there is a Country Fair in Brownsburg this weekend?

Why We Write Our Prayers Down in a Book and then Read Them

Some want more spontaneity in the prayers at a Catholic Mass. I do not, and this is exhibit A!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Speedway vs. Ritter Homily

Sorry for the lack of posting recently - but I think when you read below you'll see where my heart has been.

Every Friday, before the football game, the team and I celebrate Mass right after school. I normally keep those homilies "in house" but this one, for the sake of our community and a need for a LOT of healing, I felt needed to be shared.

First the background: On Thursday, some of our players found on the internet a video that a group of Speedway's players (most of them starters) had put together in their Speedway jerseys on Speedway's campus. The video is a freestyle rap video, the highlights of which note how these "men" from Speedway are going to do things to some of the girls in our school (sisters of some of our players). The stuff mentioned is not just X-rated, it is XXX-rated, offensive and horrendous to the extreme, and worse than any uncensored rap song ever created.

Compounding the hurt and anger over the incident, Speedway officials were made aware of the video and were shown the video on Friday morning - 36 hours before kickoff on Saturday night.

36 hours later - the Speedway players played in the game.

It is one thing for kids to screw up - we have our own suspensions at Ritter - the most hurtful thing for the Ritter community was the fact that nothing was done promptly to address the issue.

I think there are a lot of fine people working in public schools, but for me this incident has only heightened my belief in the importance of Catholic schools. Had the incident happened at Ritter, I can promise you, our kids would have been dragged off of the practice field on Friday, meetings would have been held, all night long if necessary, and I can guarantee you the meetings being held would have been "are these kids allowed to return to school" not "should they be able to play tomorrow?" I don't care how big one's school is, I don't care what other problems an administrator has to consider, I know due process has to be followed, but the pain on our end was amplified EXPONENTIALLY to see these young men taking the field against our team 36 hours later.

I share this so as to provide a little context for my homily. Anger and tension continues to be palpable in our community four days later as options for protecting and defending the dignity of our girls who were so ruthlessly slandered and sexually harassed continue to be explored. Although you may not be involved in our community at Ritter, I think the homily raises some important questions about anger and hurt that are important for ALL Catholics to think about. The teaching of our Church in this area is grossly misunderstood. Below is the text version of what I delivered to our team during our pregame Mass on Saturday afternoon.

A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil.”

When I was a football coach at Chatard, we had a tradition called “Senior Scripture” where on Thursday nights after practice, a senior would share his favorite Bible passage and offer a short reflection.

One night, instead of offering a selection from Scripture, one of our seniors shared with us a quote from Yoda from the Star Wars movies – “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”

I’m sure he was a nice guy and I hope the young man is doing well today – but this quote is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. These are the words of a puppet in a movie and they simply aren’t true. Fear doesn’t always lead to anger and anger doesn’t always lead to hate.

We think this way, though! We walk around telling ourselves “I can’t be angry, I’m a nice, polite, American, and I don’t get angry”

This mindset has been considered a heresy from the very beginning of the Church and the heresy is called Stoicism. Stoicism teaches that the truly good people are the ones who don’t have emotions in the first place. Stoicism says that only bad people experience emotions like anger and that if we want to truly be perfect we have to not experience those emotions in the first place.

The reason it is considered a heresy is because it is a lie about what it means to be a human person. I can’t WILL AWAY emotions; I can’t decide “You know what, I’m not going to have emotions anymore” If we do we will explode because emotions aren’t meant to be suppressed. Those who are sexually pure are not those who don’t experience attraction – they are the people who experience attraction but handle it honorably. In a similar way, certain things are WRONG, and we experience anger in witnessing them – we are not UNHEALTHY for experiencing anger – it is only UNHEALTHY to pretend the anger isn’t there.

We often have this image of saints and Mary and Jesus sort of flittering about with their heads in the sky ditzily saying “Oh, I’m a saint, I don’t have emotions because I’m holy” – that’s the problem with Stoicism – it gets us to thinking that it is impossible for us to be a saint.

A lot of people tell themselves – “well, I’ve experienced sexual attraction – this is already a sin, so I mine as well act on it” or “well, I want to go smash someone’s face in for what they said about my sister – and now I’ve already sinned so I mine as well go act on it – I wish I could be a good person and not have these thoughts.”

That is why the Yoda quote is so dumb and misleading and false.

A movie that gets it right is the Passion of the Christ. One of my favorite scenes from the film is one in which Mary, having seen her Son beaten to a bloody pulp, and now being raised up on the cross, grabs two handfuls of rocks in anger – a sign of someone ready to pick up a sword or start punching – and she squeezes the rocks tight, but then lets them fall from her hands instead of throwing them.

THAT is what a saint does – she experiences anger, but doesn’t give in to the temptation to act on it in a violent and sinful way.

You are angry, I am angry, we’re all angry about what happened – some young men from the school we play tonight put out there for the world to see some of the must vulgar stuff about our sisters… our daughters… and our friends

You are not wrong for being angry – I want you to acknowledge it and admit it and look at it.

In putting this video on Youtube for all to see, I can only guess that part of their twisted and disgusting mindset was a hope to get us to act on our anger wrongly

I think it is interesting that this happens on the very weekend we remember 9/11 – an attempt by some people to get our country to drop to their inhumane level and a very violent attempt also to split and divide our country

But what happened on 9/11… Our country came together and was stronger than ever before. With this incident as well – it is an opportunity to draw closer together, circle the wagons, and draw closer as a family.

Our response to our anger is to not be mad at ourselves for experiencing it but to bring our anger here, and to pray for our enemies. To the extent that we can’t forgive them completely yet – we also pray for the strength that we are going to need to not let our anger boil over into something that WOULD become sinful.

You play a naturally violent game tonight against people who have lost their minds – whose fruit is on display for the world to see – against men whose community has decided to look the other way for now in the face of all of this, and you will be heavily tempted, in the heat of such a game, to let your anger take over you completely.

Remember, you have every right to be angry – but what are you going to do with it?

Jesus says in the Gospel today - “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil

What will you “produce” tonight? Good or evil?

In my three years at Ritter I’ve not asked for anything that I can think of, but I ask something of you today. I ask that you say not one word to your opponent. No taunting, no fighting, no cheap shots, no personal fouls. I ask that you answer in the only way you should.

I end with this. In 8th grade, Sr. Theresa Clare had us memorize poems. I only remember one line from one poem – and the poem is titled “IF” by Rudyard Kipling. It is a poem with words of advice from a father to a son. He provides a series of “if you do this….if you do this…if you do this…” and he ends with “you’ll be a man my son.”

The line I’ve always remembered is this. “IF you can keep your head while those about you are losing theirs… you will be a man my son.”

Those about us are losing their heads. That was on display for the world to see. What will you do? Will you lose your head too? Will you produce evil? Or will you, while allowing yourself to be angry, still keep your head and produce something good tonight?

A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil.

We pray for the strength to produce good in the face of evil.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Archbishop Chaput's Homily from Installation - Worth a Read!

Pulled this off of Rocco Palmo's Blog:



Cardinal Rigali and Eminent Cardinals; Monsignor Lantheaume, brother bishops, priests and deacons; Lt. Gov. Cawley, Mayor Nutter and esteemed leaders of the civic community; beloved seminarians; fellow religious; members of my family; brothers and sisters in Christ, and most especially the faithful of the archdiocese of Philadelphia:

A married friend told me last week that getting together for today reminded him of planning for a very, very, very big wedding. He was being humorous, but he was actually more accurate than he knew. The relationship of a bishop and his local Church -- his diocese -- is very close to a marriage. The ring I wear is a symbol of every bishop’s love for his Church. And a bishop’s marriage to the local Church reminds me, and all of us who serve you as bishops, that a bishop is called to love his Church with all his heart, just as Christ loved her and gave his life for her.

Of course, my appointment to Philadelphia is an arranged marriage, and the Holy Father is the matchmaker. The good news is that romance is a modern invention -- and given the divorce rate common today, it's not everything it’s cranked up to be. In fact, history suggests that arranged marriages often worked at least as well as those based on romantic love. When arranged marriages were common, there was an expectation that people would get to know each other and then come to love one another. Good matchmakers were aware of the family history of each of the spouses and their particular needs. And the really wise matchmakers could make surprisingly good choices.

In the Church, we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the decisions of the Holy Father. And the results are always joyful if we commit our wills to cooperating with God’s plan. For any marriage to work, two things need to happen. People need to fall in love, and together they need to be fruitful. That’s what we need to dedicate ourselves to today – to love one another and be fruitful together for the new evangelization.

Getting to know one other is a great adventure. Our life together is part of the story of salvation, which God continues even into our own time. Mary didn’t expect the Annunciation. She didn’t expect to be mother of our Redeemer. And yet her act of obedience changed the course of history and led to a new covenant of love and fruitfulness. I have no illusions of being worthy of this ministry, but I do trust the wisdom of the Holy Father. So I’m deeply grateful for his confidence and the privilege of serving this local Church.

Along with a ring, two other symbols really define a bishop’s ministry. The first is the pectoral cross that rests next to the bishop’s heart. And Jesus tells us that if we want to be his disciples, we need to do three things (Mt 16:21-27): We need deny ourselves, we need to take up our cross, and we need to follow him. It’s vitally important for the bishop to really believe this, to live it, and to preach it, even when calling people to accept very difficult things in fidelity to the Gospel.

The second symbol is the crosier, which is a symbol of the shepherd. The Good Shepherd was the first image of Christian art created by the earliest disciples in the catacombs in Rome. One of first representations of Jesus we have is the Good Shepherd who carries a lamb on his shoulders. All of us, especially the people of Philadelphia, should keep that image in our hearts in the months ahead because the Good Shepherd really will bring the Church in Philadelphia through this difficult moment in our history to security and joy and a better future.

This installation today takes place in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The word cathedral comes from the Greek word cathedra, which means "the chair." The cathedral is the church that houses the bishop’s chair, which has always been seen as another key symbol of the bishop’s role – in this case, his teaching authority. St. Augustine of Hippo, speaking in the 4th century captured the role of the bishop in these words. He said:

“Jerusalem had watchmen who stood guard . . . And this is what bishops do. Now, bishops are assigned this higher place” -- the bishop’s chair in the basilica – “so that they themselves may oversee and, as it were, keep watch over the people. For they are called episkopos in Greek, which means ‘overseer,’ because the bishop oversees; because he looks down from [his chair] . . . And on account of this high place, a perilous accounting will have to be rendered [by the bishop] – unless we stand here with a heart such that we place ourselves beneath your feet in humility.”

Another time, on the anniversary of his episcopal ordination, Augustine described the bishop’s duties in the following way. He said (this is a big job):

“To rebuke those who stir up strife, to comfort those of little courage, to take the part of the weak, to refute opponents, to be on guard against traps, to teach the ignorant, to shake the indolent awake, to discourage those who want to buy and sell, to put the presumptuous in their place, to modify the quarrelsome, to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good, to suffer the evil and to love all men.”

My dear brother bishops, it’s crucial for those of us who are bishops not simply to look like bishops but to truly be bishops. Otherwise, we’re just empty husks -- the kind of men St Augustine referred to when he said, “You say, ‘He must be a bishop for he sits upon the cathedra.’ True – and a scarecrow might also be called a watchman in the vineyard.”

My installation today takes place on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast which has its origin somewhere in Syria or Palestine at the beginning of the 6th century. The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It’s an important feast because it prepares the way for the birth of Jesus. I was ordained a bishop on the feast of Mary’s parents, Saints Joachim and Anne. Fourteen years ago, I was installed as the archbishop of Denver on the Feast of the Annunciation. And now I celebrate my installation as bishop of the great Church of Philadelphia on the Feast of Mary’s birthday. For me, like so many other priests, Mary has been a constant source of hope and protection in my vocation. So I ask all of you today to pray for me to the mother of God so that she will surround all of us in the Church of Philadelphia with her love and protection.

The birthday of Mary is a turning point in the history of salvation, planned from all eternity by God’s divine providence. So the readings for today should reassure us in a powerful way. All the events of a believer’s life are shaped by the will of a loving God. God’s purpose undergirds everything that happens to Christians, for God is truly in control. So in the midst of the turmoil of the Church in our time, specifically in Philadelphia, this feast of Mary’s birth should remind us of God’s loving plan. We need to make the act of faith embedded in today’s first reading: that “all things work for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.” And just as God foreknew and predestined Mary’s birth, God foreknew and predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son so that Jesus might be the firstborn of many brothers. Saint Jose Maria Escriva said this about the struggle with fear and anxiety that all of us sooner or later face: “Have you forgotten that God is your father? Or [that God is] powerful, infinitely wise, full of mercy? [God] would never send you anything evil. The thing that is worrying you is good for you even though those earthbound eyes of yours may not be able to see it now.”

Of course, in the unfolding of Scripture, Mary’s birthday is ultimately about the birth of her son. The Gospel for today is the story of how Jesus was conceived. And we honor Mary precisely because she gave birth to Jesus, our messiah and Lord. The Gospel focuses on Joseph’s goodness and fidelity, and on Mary’s perfect surrender to God in love, trusting in the providence of God. We need to follow the example of Mary and Joseph, trusting God in the difficult times of our life. The issues that Joseph and Mary faced seemed insurmountable and caused intense confusion, much like the issues in our local church. But the name given to Jesus signifies “Savior” and we know that in Jesus, God promises to be with us. God is truly Emmanuel – God is with us! This gives us great confidence in the future God has planned for us.

This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There’s no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord Himself, is a miracle worker. But it's important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by our critics or by those who dislike us. What we do in the coming months and years to respond to these challenges – that will define who we really are. And in engaging that work, we need to be Catholics first, and always. Jesus Christ is the center of our lives, and the Church is our mother and teacher. Everything we do should flow from that.

So, what we embark on today is a marriage, where someone who loves you, the Holy Father, is also someone who loves me. And the Holy Father knows in his wisdom that we will make a good family together. So we should see each other as gifts. I receive you as a gift from the Holy Father; and this requires that you receive me and my service as a gift from him, too. This requires that we make a commitment, an act of the will, to deepen our hearts, to love one another, to be patient with one another and, ultimately, to lay down our lives for one another.

So I’ll close with repeating what I said in July to the bishops -- my dear brother auxiliary bishops -- priests and deacons of this diocese, to our men and women religious, our seminarians and to all the faithful: Whatever my weaknesses (and they're many) and whatever my lacks (and they're many, too), no bishop will give himself more joyfully than I will to renewing this Church together. No bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage my brother priests, and restore the hearts of our faithful. And everything I’ve learned in my 24 years as a bishop and 41 years as a priest, and everything I have, I will give to this ministry, because all of you -- the people of God entrusted to my care -- deserve it, and I love you.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Archbishop Chaput Quote of the Day

"As Catholics, how can we uncouple what we do, from what we claim to believe, without killing what we believe and lying in what we do? The answer is simple. We can’t. How we act works backward on our convictions, making them stronger or smothering them under a snowfall of alibis." - Render Unto Caesar

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why You Need To Be On Twitter - And How To Get There

Archbishop Chaput noted the following at one of his talks he gave during World Youth Day:

"Being uninformed about the world and its problems and issues is a sin against our vocation as disciple... We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith -- and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices... These are secular operations focused on making a profit... They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth... and with relatively few exceptions... the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief."

So how does one get news from reliable sources quickly and easily??? My suggestion is Twitter.

Twitter takes 8.3 seconds to sign up for. Go to, create a name, create a password, and your rolling.

Here's how to take advantage of Twitter - follow about 50-150 people/organizations that you feel will give you solid and trustworthy updates on news and culture. Every time a person you follow sends out a "tweet" it appears in your timeline, giving you a nice "table of contents" on what is truly newsworthy - without the bias of the secular media filtering the news stories for you.

Here's how to find who to follow: When you go on Twitter, find my profile. Click on my name, and then you'll get some stats about me. One of the stats says "Following: 111" which means I'm following 111 people. Click on that, and then you'll see who I'm following. You can then choose to follow any of the same people by clicking on "+ follow" You can also go to other people you like/trust, and see who they follow as well, and then you can repeat that process until you are happy with the sources that you have.

Some people say you have to follow anyone who follows you - I say that's hogwash! Some people on Twitter will "tweet" things that are completely useless, and, even worse, some will "tweet" way too frequently, which can keep you from easily seeing the tweets of the other people whom you follow. I used to follow this Catholic blogger names the Anchoress, but it seemed like she tweeted 25 times a day, so I stopped following her to keep my timeline of tweets cleaner.

I would suggest a couple of other things
a) follow people who have opposing views so you can see what is coming from that side of the debate. For example, I follow Planned Parenthood to see what "information" they are putting out there
b) don't follow more than 50-150 people/organizations or it will become difficult to sort through all of the tweets in your timeline
c) You don't ever have to send out a tweet yourself in order to take advantage of Twitter.

Twitter is great if you can set it up to work for you. It gathers all of the blogs and news that you are interested in into one convenient place for you to get quick summaries so that you can see which stories and posts you want to read about further. It keeps you from having to run all over the internet trying to gather the news; when I'm on Twitter in the morning, I'm usually only on for about 5-10 minutes. Afterwards, I feel like I have a good idea of what is going on in the world and don't need to go elsewhere for info.

The best way to put Twitter to work for you is to simply try it. I promise, after 15 minutes you'll figure it out and it will be up and running and ready to do a lot of work for you! Do not be afraid of Twitter!!!

Let me know if you have any other questions/suggestions about using Twitter.

Chaput Quote of the Day

The man tapped to clean up the disaster that is the current crisis in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is one of my favorites - Archbishop Charles Chaput (pronounced sha-pew). In the lead up to his installation on Thursday, I will be posting a quote of his each day.

"Forcing religious faith out of a nation's public square and out of a country's public debates does not serve democracy... What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation's civic life, we're really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance -- a religion without God."

Jesus Wants Us To Be Like Brian Kelly (Kind Of)

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Weekend at the Movies

The Debt
Rated L - some adults may find the content difficult. Click here to read the review.

Shark Night 3D
This film is rated "O" morally offensive (big surprise there!). Click here to read why.

Apollo 18
This film is also rated A III - acceptable for adults - here's the review.

A Run-In With the Devil

Earlier this week, I was called to a house for a blessing. The family that asked for the blessing simply told me over the phone "we've had some interesting activity in our house." I agreed to go to the house on Wednesday to do a blessing.

I had read before about priests having weird things happen as the time drew near to deal with something demonic, but had never experienced it myself.

It wasn't like I was sitting around on Wednesday waiting for the blessing, I had a busy day and priests bless houses all the time. However, as the time drew near for me to bless the house, I came down with one of the worst illnesses I've ever had in my life. I don't suffer from migraines, yet I came down with one of the worst migraine headaches, to the point where it hurt to open my eyes. I hadn't had the urge to get sick since I was a child, but that suddenly came over me as well, along with a fever.

I printed a Google map of the residence, but everything was wrong on the map and I couldn't find the house. I had to return to the Church, at this point 10 minutes late. I called the house, and no one answered. I called again, and no one answered. Both times the voice mail said that the message box was full and that I couldn't leave a message.

At this point, I first realized that perhaps I was encountering some resistance. Why wouldn't the family answer their phone? They've been waiting for this house blessing for a long time, surely they were home. Fortunately, the family called my on my cell phone, told me how to get to the house, and I was able to find it.

The family relayed to me some of the stuff that had been happening - the dog behaving as if an intruder were in the house, someone distinctly coming up the steps, someone clearly walking around upstairs, and their 2 year old daughter always afraid of one of the rooms, and sometimes coming in to tell the parents their is someone in the house. One might say that in this era of ghost hunters and so forth on TV that people are looking for stuff like this, but this family was very down to earth, not looking for attention, and VERY matter of fact about what was going on. There was no doubt in my mind that something was going on in the house.

I was able to perform the ritual for the blessing of a home, blessed all of the rooms with holy water, and blessed the family and their dog before departing.

On the way home, amidst the pain, I kind of laughed at the devil - "this is all you can do...harass some little priest? Must be pretty sad for you to know that's as deep as your bag of tricks goes."

I went home, went straight to bed, and almost decided to go downstairs and have Fr. Joe drive me to the hospital. Now I'm not a guy who goes to the hospital, especially for a fever/migraine - I say this to convey that I was in the hurt locker. I finally managed to fall asleep, and what was crazy was that at 2:30 in the morning I woke up absolutely fine, and have felt fine since.

I'm sure the skeptic has an explanation for my illness, the map issue, and I'm sure there is a logical explanation for the answering machine being full, and can probably point to creaky floor boards and a crazy dog as explanations for what was going on in the home - but I don't really care anymore about skeptics. I've realized a skeptic will always be able to be skeptical. I share this story to let those who care to believe that the Devil and his minions are real, but, just as the Church teaches, their sphere of influence is ultimately pretty pathetic.

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Missal Myths

There are two things I'd like to address that people who are whining about the Roman Missal translation coming in Advent love to harp on.

1) "There are too many run-on sentences in the new translation!!!"

Here are a couple of sentences from our CURRENT translation

a) "Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice." Total:38 words

When I pray this at Mass, I wonder how many people really follow that whole sentence. It is a great sentence, obviously, but I wonder if people follow it.

b) "We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation."
Total: 52 words

2) "People don't use language like the language of the translation we're getting - for example, who says CONSUBSTANTIAL?"

Response: But all the phrases in our current Mass translation ARE colloquial? How often have you heard "one in being" in a sentence in the last 30 years outside of Mass? If colloquialism were the gold standard, there would have to be a new Missal for high school Masses with lots of LOL's, OMG's, and "likes" (Jesus like took the bread and like looking up to heaven said OMG...) Of course the new Mass isn't colloquial, but neither is the one we use now.

I really am amazed at how much people whine over the new translation. The Eeyores are everywhere with the new translation, and it is getting a little ridiculous. I talked with a priest recently who proudly informed me that he's been meticulously combing through the new Missal with post it notes, deciding which words he will use, and which words he won't. Besides the enormous arrogance of such a move (I know better than the Church) isn't that just time consuming? I couldn't imagine having to make a decision for myself on every word of the Mass, and with all the work that is needed today from priests, I'm baffled that someone has the time to do such editing.

I personally am excited about the transition - not because I didn't like the old words, not because I'm in love with the new words - I'm just glad that it will provide an opportunity to dive back into the words of the Mass and will provide an opportunity to think about what we say and do at Mass.

Attitude determines altitude.