Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011- Goodbye to a "bad" year or keeping perspective

It has been a hectic week for numerous reasons, among them I have been one of those who was not on vacation this past week. At the end of every year, the news is full of retrospectives and "looks back on the year that was". I have heard a few references to this having been still a bad year economically. God has been pretty much eliminating my ability to give myself any kind of pity party the past year or so by reminding me of those who are really having bad years and are really suffering. I can think of several families or individuals for whom Christmas will likely never bring good memories due to truly horrible things which happened. I can think of others who are missing loved ones unexpectedly. So many of the problems I could whine over are really not so much. This next year, I will be trying to love more and to make those I love know it more.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Parvulus filius hodie natus est nobis- A Child is born to us this day!

The hustle and bustle of the past week or so is over and Christmas is here! I was able to slip away once the little one was in bed for an hour of adoration, which did wonders to help me leave Martha mode and try to be a Mary. I wish the blessings of this holy season on all. Christmas is here!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

US Anglican Ordinariate News- Mt. Calvary Church- Baltimore is Coming Home!

Deo Gratias!

A person I know in Baltimore who is at Mt. Calvary advised it was announced today. As noted on the church's website:

On October 24, 2010…

Mount Calvary became the first congregation to announce its decision to leave The Episcopal Church in order to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation, contained in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, to become an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church, and to become part of the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans when it is established in the United States.

The parishioners have been in formation through education sessions with one of my former pastors, a Dominican priest (Order of Preachers) who was an Episcopal priest before crossing the Tiber. The church is historic and from what I have gathered, the issue of the church property had to be decided which is why another congregation in Maryland became the first Anglican parish under Anglicanorum coetibus to actually be accepted into the church.

I am excited partially primarily as it is wo when anyone comes home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am also excited because of the richness of liturgy-language, music and postures that Anglicans are bringing to the church. Those who may never want to step foot into a church with the TLM my go to an Anglican Ordinariate where they will experience a mass that probably looks like what the bishops attending Vatican II actually had in mind...I am just saying.

Here is their website:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"For he that is not against you is for you"- or do I really need to start smacking heads?

37 John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, who follows not us: and we forbade him. 38 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that does a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me. 39 For he that is not against you is for you. 40 For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (John 9:37-40) from

I have read some posts and articles regarding the labeling that so many just love to do, such as conservative, traditional/trad/traddie, neo-con.... Sometimes (often) it makes me want to start knocking heads together in hopes that will knock some sense into others. I am thinking of a recent article I read that was critical of those who were judged to be conservative but not traditional.

Everyone is not going to be formed in the same way and that is good. You want diversity (yes the d-word) in the good sense which means there will be variations in speech, opinions, ideas because your environment, your family, your ethnicity etc. can and will influence you. Read St. Thomas Aquinas especially in the area of temperance. What is suitable for one person given their state of life might not be appropriate to others. Even in the TLM mass, speaking with those who attended prior to the changes, there were those who experienced a low mass for almost every mass and those who learned the ordinary and propers and who attended many sung masses as well as vespers services etc.

So the relevance is we are in a culture that is actively working against the church on many levels. We need active catechises including more priests not afraid to preach on what the church holds, teaches and believes, even though much is counter to what society says.

Yes, there are hymns that are earwigs to me and which I would love to gather into a pod and jetison into space forever (though they are so bad it could start an inter-stellar war if there were ever found to be life on another planet). I cringe to see guitars and drum kits at mass, the social mixer "kiss of peace" and numerous other additions. I also understand and know, that the people I know who do like that style and who are on the front lines with me in Germantown and who are and will be in Annapolis (or other capital cities) and DC, are not the enemy and I don't need to concentrate on changing them. The enemy is "prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls".

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gaudete in Domino semper! Ember Days as Advent calm in the storm of Christmas prep

In the western church, we have lost much of the penitential nature of Advent. From friends who were Byzantine Catholic, I had learned that there was an Advent fast. It is not as severe as the Lenten fast, but in both liturgy and actions our eastern rite brothers and sisters were a bit more focused on trying to make Advent a real time of preparation.

I know it is hard to stay focused on Advent or any penitential actions since, outside of mass, which for many is just once a week, there is not much if anything to counter the Christmas season that surrounds us and that starts to disappear December 26. Personally, I love Christmas lights and since it is completely dark by 6pm here, it is easy to see numerous houses light up with various degrees of festivity.

We have our Advent wreath and most of our nativity sets are out and waiting patiently for baby Jesus to arrive. The Benedictine office in the EF today included the verse "Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again rejoice" and the gospel reading was focused on those asking Jesus who was John the Baptist. We prepare and are trying to get ready and in the Latin rite we do have helps for this week for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are Ember Days, which are days of fast which occur four times a year. This coming week, Wednesday December 14, Friday December 16 and Saturday December 17 are days to fast and pray, From discussions on other sites, I gather these days were not surpressed but were just not inlcuded anymore on the calendar and in the OF there is not any mention of them in the mass. I was able to attend an EF mass on Ember Saturday in September and it was quite moving and included more readings and prayers of intersession remenicient of those on Good Friday.

Even though you may worship completely in the OF of the mass, you can still try to make time to reflect, pray and even fast in preparation for the coming of Christmas. To try to make certain that in all of the cleaning and shopping and cooking and traveling, we remember to rejoice in the Lord always and to prepare anew for Christ to come into our hearts.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Auschwitz was in the city

I was at the the prayer rally for the tragic one year anniversary of the late term abortionist who started killing late term (starting at 5 months) babies one year ago today. We were hoping for 1000 and per the people counting we had 2000 witnessing to life.

I was reflecting on the fact of the horror that goes on in an office park that looks like any one of hundreds in suburban DC. It is near daycare centers and grocery stores, banks, fast food places, and a mega shoe store. You can find a similar area in pretty much any town and city.

During the last 40 Days for Life, I was talking with one of the other women who came to pray and she was telling me about a visit she made to Auschwitz while on a tour of Europe after college. She and a friend decided to take the train to the city and when the exited the train, they asked a taxi driver or bus driver to take them there. The driver asked what was wrong with their feet and when they asked why he said that he pointed and they found that the walls to the compound were right there. The death camp where so many innocent people died was right in the city. The woman said she returned a few years ago when she was on a trip to Europe and she wanted to make certain her memory was not distorted by age and she confirmed.

The internet can be a wonderful resource. You can see satellite and even street level pictures of so many places on earth. I looked it up, and she was right. I saw the train tracks and the city, and the memorial left where cruelty that stuns me happened.

The people had to know Auschwitz was there and they had to know something was horribly, drastically wrong. They had to know.

It is very easy to mouth slogans and politically correct and politically safe statements. It it easy to go along with what will keep you from being seen as "stuck in the past", or fundamentalist or reactionary. Totalitarian regimes almost always if not always paint their opposition as being the radicals.

Auschwitz was in the city.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Keeping Advent- The challenge and the purple light set

Advent was one of the great treasures that I discovered when I found the church. I think I had heard of Advent calendars, but the only "season" of the church really on the radar was Lent. I spent many years having no idea that the 12 days of Christmas were the days AFTER December 25 and that December was for Christmas trees, Christmas lights etc.

Don't get me wrong, I do shop for Christmas presents and I do like to see the lights on houses as I am driving in the evening. I am not constantly reminding people around me that "it is Advent not Christmas!" It remains a challenge, in the face of all of the red and green to focus on the season of Advent. We have our "real" Advent wreath and I found a couple of Advent resources for little hands- one an Advent wreath place mat that allows the child to color the lights on the wreath and the other a fabric wreath that allows your child to "light" their own wreath that they can actually touch.

I had been wishing I could find a purple light set because I would be willing to put them up, but only with purple during Advent and changing them to colored lights later. Nothing big, but just something seasonal. Well, I was out running some errands yesterday morning and I had to to to CVS yesterday and they had purple lights and on sale. I was trying to put them on our railing at home, but then discovered that the brilliant folks who designed our subdivision did not put an external outlet on the front of our townhouse, the only outlet is in the rear. Still trying to figure out plan B.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scepter Press Daily Roman Missal personal edition review

I arrived home today and a small box had arrived. When I saw it was from the Midwest Theological Forum I was very happy as it meant my copy of the Daily Roman Missal had arrived. This is the Missal that really changed my life as it was the only missal that included the Latin and English for the OF form of the mass. It served the purpose of reinforcing that the Roman Catholic Church never ceased to be the Latin Rite. More importantly, it helped me understand, long before discussions of the new translation, that the English we were saying was not what was in the Latin. It also taught me that there are proper introit, offertory and communion antiphons for every day of the liturgical calendar and the prayer section is also thorough and contains many prayers in Latin and English.

The book comes in hardcover, bonded leather and leather and I went for the bonded leather in burgundy. The leather is textured and the missal feels solid.

The pages are an eggshell cream color and there are black and white/cream engravings on some of the pages. The print is a good size. Some of the pictures look brighter due to the flash. The color of the pages is hard to capture but it appears similar to the paper in my older Daily Roman missal.

Inside cover

Page from Advent

Page from feast of St. Teresa Benedicta

There are 6 ribbons

The edges are gilt and look nice. The binding is tight, but the bonded leather seems flexible enough that it should not split at the base from daily use.

The book is 7 inches by 4 3/4 inches by 2 inches. Compared with my Christian Prayer LOTH book it is a bit thicker and taller. It has 2514 pages.

Edge to edge

As I was unfolding the ribbons from the book I did find one page was folded inward and the folded edge had been bound into the book. I gently cut it free and it will need a trim, but no worries. I am just happy I won't have to bother with the pew cards and can read the readings prior to mass.

And last, but not least, the missal retains the section on preparing for mass and preparing for confession as well as a very good section of classic and traditional prayers. And, of course, the main attraction of the missal for me, the prayers on opposite pages in Latin on the left and English on the right.

Receiving the missal just confirmed for me that this was the best choice. Also, it is ready and shipping now and I noticed the other day on the web site of a well known missal that has separate Sunday and daily versions that there missals will not be ready until early next year and the last time I saw them, they contained no Latin. This missal will be of use at the parish's which are fortunate enough to have the Latin OF mass, but even for those of us who normally attend the OF in English, this missal includes all we need to attempt to pray always and also to pray the mass.

ISBN 978-1-936045-59-4 is the bonded leather in burgundy. It also comes in black bonded leather, black leather and black and burgundy hard cover.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our children's liturgical neglect

One of the worst results of the liturgical destruction that was the result of Vatican II and post council committees was the loss to 2-3 generations of the richness of the liturgical life and the mass that had lasted for centuries. The reality is the council called for Latin to maintain it's pride of place and Gregorian chant was to remain the preferred music along with some polyphony. You will meet those that will tell you to your face and believe that "Vatican II did away with Latin". For children, it too often ended up meaning the loss of the chants that were known by all (Ave Maria, Salve Regina) as well as the loss of learning the richness of chants in their Catholic Schools. The Catholic experience was then and remains varied, but I have spoken with enough people and seen their accounts to know that there were many children who learned the ordinary chants for the mass and the propers. There were schools and churches where the oldest students, the 7th and 8th graders, who were the most accomplished were called upon to sing for funerals and other special services.

Pope Paul VI, alarmed at the wholesale abandonment of chant by the mid 1970's promulgated a collection of chants that he said all of the faithful should know. It was called Jubilate Deo and I actually have a booklet and cassette tape (dating myself) of the collection. This is significant. The pope who oversaw the end of Vatican II and the changes was indicating things had gone too far.

What we got in America, was at too many parishes guitar based pop music. There are parishes where I have seen the drum kits on the altar since new churches are not built with choir lofts. I have some guilty pleasures- one of them is some not so great 70's pop. If I channel hop and "Seasons in the Son" or "Baker Street" or even Bay City Rollers comes on I will likely listen. "Peace Train" is on my Ipod. When it comes to the music in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, top 40 should not be part of the equation. When people try to change the Holy Mass into just a meal and a love feast around the table (a protestant idea), problems arise.

So instead of learning the chants which elevate mind, body and spirit and that are not hard to learn (a pre-school child literally can pick up some chants) children's masses are generally plagued with bad music or pop based tunes better saved for a prayer meeting or other casual gathering.

The majority of children graduate from Catholic grade school without knowing the basic chants unless they learn them some other way. That is a crime and a neglect of our children which has and is depriving them of their religious heritage.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

To disappointment of media no heads exploded at masses with new translation

The media in the U.S. can be funny. Not rotflol funny but sheesh funny. Several papers and news websites have run articles in the last weeks and days solemnly stating the mass won't sound the same. The WaPo article today was, "Will the New Mass cause confusion." I have read such phrases as "not since Vatican II have such sweeping changes been made" and my personal favorite quote "it's going to be like Vatican II all over again. Ummm, not at all like the changes the first Sunday in Advent 1968 when people came to mass and without any warning, it was entirely in English on a table and the priest was staring at them the entire mass instead of praying with the people facing (liturgical) east.

Doing things by rote can have its advantages at times. When it is oh dark hundred and the morning, it helps to not have to think while you get up, turn off the alarm clock and start the daily routine. Breathing and blinking and walking are all things that, in a sense, we do by rote- most of us don't have to think about them, we just do it.

I remain unconvinced that the responses of the mass are a good thing to be rote. One reason I am very happy to be able to attend the EF mass is I have to participate and I have to actively participate. Even though I know how the mass proceeds, I know many of the responses and good amounts of the prayers, I am always paying attention or being recollected. I focus. At the OF, since I know English, it is all to easy to let the distractions of the day creep in and I often am not really listening to the prayers. I try and it is not on purpose, but English is ordinary, I don't have to work at it. Latin means worship and I have to remain focused and attentive.

On the other side of the pond, our media is spreading cheer by amusing some of our English friends who were given permission by their bishops to begin using the new translation several months ago. People adjusted fine and no one will look askance when you accidentally say "and also with you".

It would be amusing to go to masses on Christmas to listen for those C & E folks who have not idea, but I should behave and not be snarky.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A reminder of gratitude and the Mass

The knock down and drag out of "black" Thursday/Friday shopping may have swept all thoughts of turkey, family, football and Thanksgiving from some. I was so excited when I woke up at 4:30am- to realize I could go back to sleep and no alarm was going to wake me for once. Well, actually one did, but she was really cute and is so...perky in the morning.

We went to mass and I admit I did reflect a bit on the fact that there is just one more mass with the old translation. In his homily, father touched on the idea of thanks and our complaints about every day life, the portion of the cross gifted to us. He made the point that lack of thanksgiving for a goodness gifted to us is ingratitute. I am blessed that it does not happen often, but since December of last year, I have attended some masses (yes OF) that were not my choice of Sunday or Holy Day mass but it was that or no mass. Yes they were blithly unaware of the Introit, Offeratory and Communion antiphons and it was hard to ignore the guitars or 70's hyms, but still, I was able to attend mass and receive Jesus. No one stopped us or shot at us or broke into the church while we were there to assault us. The new translation will not be any type of miracle cure-all, but it is a step. Step by step and brick by brick. So I will try to continue to be totally and completely grateful that Jesus called me to the church He founded and that I can receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament. And I will continue to try to silence the critical internal voice and to pray and work as a foot soldier to help promote the chant and Latin that Vatican II intended to perserve.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our country has been exceedingly blessed- Deo Gratias!

Our county is like no other- something that we forget at our peril.

I saw that the young American's arrested in Egypt are supposed to be released. I am certain there will be many people who will not take a breath in relief until they see them walking off of a plan. Perhaps in their education there was an emphasis on syncretism and solidarity, and not enough on the fact that our county has been uniquely blessed. Not the least of these blessings is our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which gives us a freedom which those in other countries can often only dream.

In the United States, you can “occupy” your Lay-Z-Boy or any public space you want within reason. You can get a permit for pretty much any political cause or issue and unless you start throwing rocks or bottles, the police will generally just watch and make certain anyone “anti you” does not start an offensive. If you want to check out said parade or public demonstration, in general no problems.

This is not the case in many other countries.

Yet another reason why the thing that concerns me most about the future for my children is those who negate and label the beliefs and reasoning of others, because they don't agree. Like springs, freedoms- real or imagined, can disappear.

I thank God for ours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Support Small Business Saturday- Some great small businesses to patronize

I am looking forward to Advent, as I do every year and I am not trying to rush anyone to overlook Thanksgiving (tryptophan here I come!). The reality is, Christmas Eve is not the optimal time to go rushing about for a present to give a loved one so I am going to pass on some sites where you can get some lovely items, some of which will need at least a few days to make it from the maker to your house. Also, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is being promoted as Small Business shopping day so this is your chance to patronize a small business and some of them will/may have promotions for "Black Friday".

1) Lady in Blue- Yes, I gave a shout out to this store in my post on veils, but she has so much more. Check out her t-shirts, dolls and soft nativity. She is offering free shipping for a few days so you can get that rosary purse or veil purse.

2) Unbreakable Rosaries- I LOVE her bracelet rosaries. She has unique styles and they don't break. Despite my best attempts, my bracelets tent to occasionally catch on something. I have broken a couple of lesser ones, but hers just laugh (not really but you get the idea, they don't break). If you want to get a keepsake rosary for someone, I highly recommend her.

3) Catholic

You need a cover for your missal or breviary/LOTH book, a baby blanket for a birth or baptism, a tote back or you are into aprons, handkerchiefs or pillowcases look no further. Beautiful designs and the main reason my missals and breviary are in as good a condition as they are. I also have her adoration tote which is great for my Bible and prayer books for adoration and my daughter loves her mass bag.

4) Cute clothes for girls and women. Blouses were always hard for me to find. I found this site due to a tiny add in The Wanderer and it was amazing. I now have feminine and basic blouses that fit. My daughter loves her pink jumper and the white blouse for girls and adults is opaque! That is a very good thing. If you are tall and like skirts of a modest length, this is your site. Her skirts are really well made and the ones I have just make me feel feminine. I also like that they are serious about keeping the Sabbath holy. They disable the purchasing part of their store so no one can buy on Sunday.

5) Saints Galore- Cards, calendar
Gorgeous Christmas cards and cards for every other occasion including spiritual bouquets. I have their pro-life luggage tag (stocking stuffer anyone?) and their wall calendar is amazing. The art is beautiful, but more importantly, the calendar includes OF and EF feats and days on the calendar AND it indicates the liturgical color for each day in both EF and OF. So necessary and handy for those of us who attend both forms and it is wonderful for teaching our daughter the proper liturgical color for our Infant of Prague

6) Pro Multis Media
Their dvd and cd of the Rosary in Latin changed my life. I had been trying to learn some Latin for years and their dvd and cd was wonderful to help me learn to pray some of the prayers verbally in Latin. They also have dvd's and cd's of the rosary in English in two different versions. They have some other excellent cd's and they also carry some books and educational cards on the stations of the cross, the mysteries of the rosary, the seven sacraments etc, all in a more traditional art form. They also carry some sacramentals and chapel veils. In fact, they have some of the Spanish veils on sale through the end of November which would be perfect for a woman who likes/wants a shawl veil or someone getting married or having a quincenera.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The fruits of bad catechesis example 1011

There are many days when I wonder if I should read anything in the newspaper other than the section A and B headlines. Since I was about 9 or 10, I enjoyed reading the paper front to back including the style section and I retain this habit today.

Our area Sunday paper has a sectionin the Style Section where they have an in-depth profile of a couple that recently married. It reviews how they met and some details of the wedding. Given that DH and I met through science fiction fandom our story probably would have been a natural had this feature existed at the time, but I digress.

So this past week, it was a couple who married in a Jewish ceremony, complete with a ketubah (or elaborately decorated marriage contract), huppah (the "tent" under which the Jewish marriage ceremony takes place, the blessings.....but neither one was Jewish. One was raised Episcopalian and the other Catholic. The operative word probably being "raised". A comment attributed to the one with the Catholic background was "I've been to a Catholic wedding, and they seem boring. It's just like church"

Based on the remainder of the article, the couple wanted "something unique" that "spoke to them" etc. Now assuming this quote was accurate, we see a sad example of the lack of catechesis into the very nature of marriage and the beautiful and powerful way that a Catholic wedding makes true two hearts and lives becoming one. I would not be surprised if this is also a result of the lack luster music and liturgical aspects of masses in too many parishes hit by the "spirit" of Vatican II". I would also bet money that he has never experienced the beauty and transcendence of an EF nuptual mass much less an EF mass, but even the OF wedding services and masses I have attended have been special and very different than other services or masses, because of the sacrament being celebrated. The individualism and personality can be expressed in the music and the readings (for the OF) and in the bridesmaid's dresses, but it should really be expressed in the reception.

There is also the issue of co-opting traditions not your own or your families because you think they are "neat", which is addressed in the article. I think many Asian wedding outfits are gorgeous (especially Japanese and Indian), but I was not running out to buy a sari or kimono when I married. The bigger issue is the tragedy of someone, ostensibly raised with the benefits of the sacraments, who seems to have no knowledge of the transcendence that is a sacramental wedding. When the marriage is sacramental, God gives special graces to the married couple, which if they act in cooperation, can assist them in the struggles of their lives as children of God and in the struggles of their vocation.

The "just church" comment strikes me as the comment of one who has not experienced the mass as the wonder that it is can be when celebrated as actually intended in the OF as well as the EF.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapel Veils- Please sir may I have another! Support and Holiday gift guide

Ok, I was stretching with that one, but I am looking for something catchy. I have been veiling for several years at all masses, TLM and OF and whenever I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I know of several blog posts and sites with women discussing this issue and some who want to but hesitate. There is a booklet I found that was written a few years ago by some young women in college. I will find it and post the information later, but they give a very good and short explanation of why they veil. For me, it is not that I feel I am better or holier, far from it. It has nothing to do with the reasons many Muslim women wear hijab. For those tempted to lob that chestnut, I am Catholic and I just cover when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Arguably the biggest loss in these 40 plus years since the end of Vatican II is the knowledge of the True Presence and reverence of the same. Veiling helps me keep recollected and focused on Jesus. It also helps me set aside any stresses and issues of daily life to participate in worship. Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist and the angels are there, in church with us, also adoring him. I also veil as a sign I am trying (and daily fail pretty spectacularly) to be in imitation of the Blessed Mother and the love and humility in which she lived.

A tangent to that is how I dress. Regardless of who is in the White House, if I received an invitation to meet the president or if I was attending some function at the Senate or House of Representatives I would not wear a sweatshirt, one of my house skirts and my slippers. I would dress appropriately for that event. When I go to work, I wear clothes appropriate for what I am doing that day and when I go to church on Sunday, my dress reflects that I am there to worship.

If someone is paying more attention to me than the mass and Jesus, they need to work (along with me) on custody of the eyes (look it up). For me, veiling also is a link to my grandmothers and their "church lady hats". I know some ladies that veil stick with black or white, but I like color.

For those that want to begin veiling, but are shy, you can start with a hat or a scarf, especially if you are in the northern hemisphere and it is cold. Just wear it outside in the cold and keep it on during mass.

You can also try snoods, headbands or other similar covers. This is an Etsy store which has some nice snood styles for women and girls:

This site has some lovely headband styles and styles that you can wear just to keep your hair back:

For veils, I highly recommend two sites:

The woman who has this Etsy shop is not only from my home state (yea!) but her veils are lovely and she will make a custom order. Her veils are made of soft lace and she also makes veil "purses" to keep your veil from getting lost or messed up in your purse. She also has in my opinion, the best t-shirt design for Confirmation ever and other items.

This owner of this site also uses a beautiful soft lace. I believe she makes all of the veils to order and she is popular so if you want to order from her for Christmas, get to stepping!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yes Virginia, it should be altar boys not altar servers

Perhaps I am getting a little nudge from above regarding my blogging efforts. I was looking through today's Washington Post and I saw an above the fold picture in the local section of a woman holding two young girls. It looked like there had been some terrible tragedy to befall the family. Then I looked at the headline- A Northern Virginia parish had decided to move away from female altar servers and to return to an all male altar boy corp dressed in cassocks. That is what lead this woman to look so doleful and "traumatized." In fact, they stopped attending that church and were driving long distances in order to find a church that did have altar girls.

Quick background, the diocese in question was one of the last two in the U.S. to decide to allow female altar servers when that permission was granted in the 1980's. When they made the change, the bishop allowed each priest to make the decision for his parish and the majority of parishes in this diocese do have all male altar boy. They also currently have 35 or 36 seminarians in formation. Fr. Zuhlsdorf, the Arizona Catholic blog and Fr. Longenecker have much more articulate postings regarding many of the good solid reasons for having an male altar boys. The priest in this Virginia parish is allowing currently trained girls to continue and has restored the boys to wearing a cassock instead of the horrible white albs tied with rope that are ubiquitous in your typical OF parish.

For the record, my daughter WILL NOT be an altar serviette. Luckily, due to attending the TLM on Sundays and being careful which OF masses we attend during the week, I have been able to minimize her exposure to this phenomenon. This is not because I am oppressing my child. From the looks of the woman in the article and the comments of another woman whose daughter they are the victims of the 1970's plus catechisis that holds: 1)active participation means everyone must be doing something pretty much every second of mass. 2) the more people on the altar "actively participating" the better and 3)its not fair. All of which adds up to the Kindergarten Approach to Liturgy i.e. everyone has to have a turn or its not fair.

The reality is, God made humans male and female and He made us to complement each other. Men cannot carry and bear children. It's not "unfair" to men that they do not get to share in that aspect of creation that God has granted to women. Men have other gifts they bring as the father. My point being, there are too many attempts to erase the differences between the sexes and the differences in what we have been called to do and to be as members of the body of Christ. Christ chose to call only men to the priesthood. That is not a policy and it cannot change, period. Being able to be an altar boy is not the only factor in a vocation to the priesthood, of course, but it is a key factor for many men. The "the black robes" or cassocks as we call them, are a clerical garment, which is why only the boys are now wearing them, and that is because direct service at the altar to assist the priest as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, can be critical to helping a boy or young man, be and remain open to a priestly vocation to which he may be called. In this day of families kept artificially small and 24/7 noise from computers, televisions and phones there is much working against vocation development.

The third to fourth grade is usually when most parish's allow training to be altar servers and it is also a time when children are really keying into differences and is a healthy and necessary stage. Girls can have a tendency to take over due to the fact that they generally mature faster, which can lead to them dominating the altar server corp and making it less attractive for boys and especially for older- high school aged boys. My parish back home always retained an all male server corp and are also notable for always having a server corp where the oldest "aged out" when they left for college instead of largely stopping service before high school rather than serve surrounded by grade school boys and numerous grade and middle school girls.

Here are some good post about the issue in general"

Fr. Z

Fr. Longenecker

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One week til we say goodbye to the avocado green and harvest gold mass translation!

Yes, I know it has been forever since I have posted. The best laid plans plus der kinder, work, classes and DH now working nights. I have written some brilliant posts in my mind, but I resolve to do better.

Untold reams of blog entries have been spent on the reason for the translation, hopes for the translation, complaints about the translation. My perspective, since my daily mass choices are (given my life, traffic in this area and gas prices), OF mass or no mass every little bit helps. My usual daily mass parish started using the Benedictine altar arrangement about 6 months ago which is very nice. Especially since the priests can now focus on Jesus during the canon, instead of on our beaming faces (or not so beaming at the 6:30am mass).

Two of the notable and excellent changes will be to the Confiteor in restoring the mea culpa's that were always there in the Latin but which were handily ignored by the avocado green translators. And no, I am not afraid reciting the mea culpa's and striking her chest will harm the self esteem of our youngest or be too negative. Aside from the fact that she, and the rest of her pre-school friends, are doing quite well in the self esteem/I am marvelous department, children do need to learn humility and learn that sin is real and that is why we had to be redeemed.
The other is the "Domine non sum dignus..." which will again bring us to mind of the story of the centurion and his servant, which always gives me a (good) chill when I read it.

I am not expecting a miracle especially among those still beating the "the people are stupid and won't be able to understand consubstantial" crowd. Note to the fishwrap folks and other nay-sayers, repeat after me "Latin rite Catholics are not stupid". I did have a lovely dream the other night where I attended mass somewhere and it was the new translation, sung and with chant.

Step by step and brick by brick (to borrow a phrase).

My new copy of Scepter Press's Daily Roman Missal is supposed to be sent out on Monday and I am hoping to have it by Wednesday, yea!