Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Saint of the Day for December; a 20th century blessed

Bl. Charles de Foucauld

Bl. Charles de Foucauld
Bl. Charles de Foucauld
Feastday: December 1

Venerable Charles de Foucauld Little Brother Charles of Jesus Charles Eugene, (Vicomte de) Foucauld 1858 - 1916 Died Age 58 Charles was left an orphan by the age of six, and he and his sister were brought up by their grandfather. By the time he was fifteen, less than a year after his First Communion, Charles had ceased to be a Christian and was an agnostic. In 1878, his grandfather died. Love for the old man had prevented Charles from indulging in the worst excesses, but at his death, Charles began to "live." On receiving his inheritance, he set about spending it in riotous living.  For a time he lived in Paris, where he took an apartment near a cousin, Marie de Bondy. Marie, who had first entered his life when he was about eleven, was a deeply spiritual young woman. Gradually, through her example, the gay and reckless young man began to change. His religion, when he rediscovered God, was a highly personal discipleship and love of the Person of Jesus Christ. Regarding his conversion, Charles said, "The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone." For a time after his return to the sacraments, Charles lived as a Trappist monk. Although he is remembered as an exemplary religious, the conviction grew that this was not his vocation. After being released from his temporary vows, Charles went to the Holy Land where he became a servant for the Poor Clare nuns.  Mother Elizabeth, the Superior of these Clarist sisters, was a woman of uncommon wisdom. She helped Charles to the realization that he should become a priest in order to serve God better. Charles finished his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in 1901. Later that year, he left for Algeria to take up the life of a hermit in the desert. Little Brother Charles of Jesus, as he called himself, thought up and wrote down a plan for two religious orders. The members of these orders would live a life patterned on the life of Jesus at Nazareth.  At the time of Brother Charles' death, neither his missionary contacts  nor his designs for new religious orders had borne visible fruit.  In 1916, living among the fierce Tuaregs of Tamanrasset, Charles de Foucauld was murdered in an attempt to warn two Arab soldiers of danger from a group of Senussi rebels.  The life of Charles de Foucauld was like the biblical seed which had to die before it sprouted into a healthy plant. Within twenty years after his death, there appeared three congregations which derived their inspiration, purpose, and Rules from Charles de Foucauld. These Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and Little Sisters of Jesus live in small groups all over the world, preaching by the lives they lead. Two other Orders, founded later, trace their heritage to Little Brother Charles of Jesus. Each of these groups bases its apostolate on the ideas of the Orders which the martyr of the desert had planned, but did not live to see. Knowledge of the life of Charles de Foucauld has spread throughout the Church. After preliminary investigations, all proved positive, and he was declared Venerable on April 13, 1978.

Praying with the Pope for December

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) – Benedict’s general prayer intention for December is: “That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect”.

His mission intention is: “That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation”.

>>>As we bgin this joyful month of December where we continue our Advent journey and celebrate the joy of Christmas please remember these prayer intentions of Pope Benedict in your prayers this month!

Pope Benedict says let's eliminate the death penalty

Pope seeks end to death penalty

Pope Benedict XVI arrives for a general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011.
  • Pope Benedict XVI speaks during a general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011.
VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI voiced support Wednesday for political actions around the world aimed at eliminating the death penalty, reflecting his stance as an opponent of capital punishment.
He made the comments during his weekly public audience to participants at a meeting being promoted by the Catholic Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life."
He said he hopes "your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty."
Benedict, like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, has appealed for commutation in a number of death penalty cases, many in the United States.
In the late 1990s, the Roman Catholic church hardened its opposition to the death penalty in a revised statement of its teaching. It said the death penalty is permissible only in the narrowest of circumstances, and only when there is no other way to protect the public.

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So long November; my how you past so quickly!

In my own little world and complicated existence, I say farewell to one of my absolutely favorite months of the year: November.  In fact, in the hierarchy of Mike's favorite months, November ranks #2 so I'm naturally not that happy to see her pass so quickly.  However, there is good news, in that December, which dawns in the morning is #1 and in my world, January is a close race for #2 with November.  Yes, I love the winter months, the darker months, the cool and the cold months, the football months and the holiday months.

November 2011 was a pretty 50/50 split of unseasonable warm days but a couple of really nice cold days too; at least in the morning.  In fact, these last few days of November have brought us our first frosts and in some communities a freeze.  This was a great month as my ministry brought me through many "classes"; those for aspiring deacons, RCIA candidates and dedicated parishioners wanting to be fully prepared for the new Roman Missal.  And we all did indeed survive our first weekend with the aforementioned Missal.  I was thrilled to adminster Baptism on back-to-back weekends.  November was another month of preaching and prison ministry and preparing for Advent.

We celebrated All Saints and All Souls and Veterans Day and our American tradition of Thanksgiving.  Both our beloved LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints pulled off a wonderful undefeated month.  Times are good in the bayou state!

I'm embracing these early days of Advent and this holy season will be the linchpin that helps me say goodbye November and heartily welcome December!

And I say thanks be to God for the fruit of His creation, including time; especially these beautiful days of late autumn and coming winter.

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Celebrating the Feast of an Apostle

St. Andrew

St. Andrew
St. Andrew
Feastday: November 30
Patron of Fisherman

Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, "what do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah.
From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It is believed that after Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived two days in that state of suffering, still preaching to the people who gathered around their beloved Apostle. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron - Russia and Scotland.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, now thru these eyes

For probably the 40th time I'm sitting at home watching the CBS Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This amazing TV show debuted in 1964 and today is the longest running annual Christmas special on TV.  I have vivid memories of watching this as a boy, with my sisters in the family home, sneaking a peek as a teenager, watching with my 1st child, then my 2nd and even in recent times.  Tonight I watch it all alone and am picking up on some amazing themes I've missed through the years. 

When the classic song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, was first recorded around 1949, after first being a story developed 10 years earlier, there was no Sam the Snowman, Herbie the dental elf, the Abominable Snowman, not even the island of misfit toys.  Yet with all these amazing additions, the TV holiday special is timeless and classic and delights young and old alike, some 47 years later.

In this classic, we are taught lessons about accepting others as they are, the consequences of being made fun of, the selfless sacrifice of others on our behalf and how love and acceptance is a source of great happiness and joy.

I love the Island off Misfit Toys.  Many of us may be misfit toys, or we know those misfit toys in our lives.  But truly, when we accept them for who they are, we learn how important we can be to each other.  Even when Rudolph and his friends arrive at the Island, they ask the toy king if they can stay with the misfit toys.  They are told no, because the king tells them, basically, no man is an island.  Living things must live the life given to them as a free and total gift.

We have the lesson of Sam the Snowman, the voice of the amazing Burl Ives, singing a song called Silver and Gold, and the value of such things over real value.  It reminds me of that amazing story in the Gospel, in Acts, where Peter tells the lame begar, gold and silver I have not, but what I have I give you, Jesus Christ; go therefore and walk!

In the most dramatic scene when the monster snowman appears ready to eradicate our heroes, one Yukon Cornelius comes to their aid and saves them, apparently giving his all in the encounter.  No greater love; laying down one's life for another.  Of course all would be well in the end as Yukon did not kill the beast; rather he converted him and he lived!

Finally, as we all know so well, at the height of the greatest snowstorm ever, that same Rudolph, seemingly deemed an outcast because of a disability, instead used that disability to save Christmas.  How many times in our lives, by the grace of God, have we seen seemingly ordinary, and sometimes marginalized people, do extraordinary things!

Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

On this Advent Tuesday, still some 4 weeks from Christmas, may we allow the true light of our lives, Jesus Christ, to guide not our sleighs but our whole lives!

And Go ahead and plan a holly, jolly Christmas this year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Missionary to early France, Bishop, Martyr, Saint

St. Saturninus

St. Saturninus
St. Saturninus
Feastday: November 29

St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr November 29 A.D. 257     St. Saturninus went from Rome by the direction of pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, had some time before gathered a plentiful harvest. In the year 250, when Decius and Gratus were consuls, St. Saturninus fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse. Fortunatus tells us, that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. This is all the account we have of him till the time of his holy martyrdom. The author of his acts, who wrote about fifty years after his death, relates, that he assembled his flock in a small church; and that the capitol, which was the chief temple in the city, lay in the way between that church and the saint's habitation. In this temple oracles were given; but the devils were struck dumb by the presence of the saint as he passed that way. The priests spied him one day going by, and seized and dragged him into the temple. declaring that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them, or expiate the crime with his blood. Saturninus boldly replied: "I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?" The infidels, incensed at this reply, abused the saint with all the rage that a mad zeal could inspire, and after a great variety of indignities, tied his feet to a wild bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed. The beast being driven from the temple, ran violently down the hill, so that the martyr's scull was broken, and his brains dashed out. His happy soul was released from the body by death, and fled to the kingdom of peace and glory, and the bull continued to drag the sacred body, and the limbs and blood were scattered on every side, till, the cord breaking, what remained of the trunk was left in the plain without the gates of the city. Two devout women laid the sacred remains on a bier, and hid them in a deep ditch, to secure them from any further insult, where they lay in "wooden coffin" till the reign of Constantine the Great. Then Hilary, bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over this his holy predecessor's body Sylvius, bishop of that city towards the close of the fourth century, began to build a magnificent church in honor of the martyr, which was finished and consecrated by his successor Exuperius, who, with great pomp and piety, translated the venerable relics into it. This precious treasure remains there to this day with due honor. The martyrdom of this saint probably happened m the reign of Valerian, in 257.

Huge Saints victory over Giants; remain in 1st place

I hope you caught the game on TV because it was a classic.  The New Orleans Saints, trying to return to the glory of the Super Bowl year, made giant strides tonight with a 49-24 victory against the New York football Giants.  The Saints offense was unstoppable, amassing over 550 yards and for a time, scoring at will.  All this after the misfire on the opening drive when a fake field goal did not convert.

The Saints defense played well enough early on to allow the Saints offense to get up by 11, then 18 for an extended period of time.  They did give up lots of 4th quarter yardage and a couple of late touchdowns but this all occured while protecting a huge lead.  I will say this, to be very candid; the Saints defense will have to be tougher, especially in putting pressure on the QB down the stretch.  And while it was good to get an interception tonight, these DB's need to pick off a few too.

But all is well tonight as the Saints are now 8-3 and that means plenty.  This win keeps the Saints 1st in the south, ahead of Atlanta by a full game.  It also keeps them ahead of many teams sitting with 7 and 6 wins in the playoff hunt.  Looking up, this win also puts us just 1 game shy of catching the San Francisco 49'ers for second seed in the NFC.

After such a complete victory tonight, against a still good Giant team and a great QB in Eli Manning, all we hope for now is consistency in effort.  When we look at two of our losses, we have to be concerned that we lost to the Rams, who really suck, and Tampa has been very poor since they beat us in the famous break the leg of your coach game.  This plagued the Saints last year too in stupid losses to Cleveland and Arizona, not to mention the playoff debacle in Seattle.  I mention all of this tonight only to point out that talent alone is not enough.  That intangible "it factor" the Saints possessed in '09 is still possible in '11.  Offensively, this Saints team looks better than the Super Bowl version and defensively, not so much.  But there is some improvement here and if this can fully come together, along with this brilliant offense; who knows.

Saints must focus a game at a time; up next is Detroit.  I think they match up well here and that would be another huge victory!

Saints fan can rejoice in another victory and can keep that hope alive for another '09 season.  We just need our Saints to keep showing up like they did tonight.  Geaux Saints!

New Orleans Saints fans turn out to support New Orleans Saint battling ALS

Gleason Gras raises 200k and awareness for ALS

Gleason Gras raises 200K and awareness for ALS
Steve Gleason and Linda Rockefeller share the same debilitating disease.  The two meet for the first time at Gleason Gras.   (Kyle Rockefeller , FOX 8 News)
Steve Gleason and Linda Rockefeller share the same debilitating disease. The two meet for the first time at Gleason Gras. (Kyle Rockefeller , FOX 8 News)
Reported by: Shelley Brown, Weekend Anchor

New Orleans-- In the fight for his life, former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason is also helping to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  Saturday the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation raised about $200,000 and awareness of the disease during the first of its kind "Gleason Gras" at Champions Square.

Gray skies, a cold wind, and at times, rain didn't hold people back.  Organizers say 5,000 people filled Champions Square.  Since Gleason announced he was diagnosed with ALS in September, people have rallied around him.  "The light that he sheds on this and the publicity and what not is really good when we're talking about donations and helping families get through this," said Shannon Rockefeller, who's mother was diagnosed with the disease in March 2010.

Friends and complete strangers showed their support for Gleason by just showing up, including 64-year-old Linda Rockefeller.  She and Gleason share the same doctor and the same debilitating disease.  "She lost her speech like Steve's losing his speech, and you have a general loss of muscle control, but after a while, everything shuts down," explained Linda Rockefeller's son, Kyle.

Linda Rockefeller can't talk anymore and uses an iPad to communicate.  When asked how Gleason has impacted her life she spelled out on the iPad:  "he has brought awareness to ALS! He's such a young man, and God has a purpose for his life!"

"There's some other technologies out there.  There's two different versions we're gonna try out, and we talked to the Gleason's.  They're gonna try one, and we're gonna try the other, and we'll see which one works the best," said Kyle Rockefeller.

Gleason's buddy and former Saint Kyle Turley, who's grandfather lost a battle with ALS, performed as part of the long lineup of live music.  People enjoyed pictures with the Lombardi trophy and autographs from Gleason's former teammates.  Six-year-old Jack Falter was so excited to meet the players, he called them the "best team in the world."

Just back from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the 610 Stompers even busted out their moves at the event to the song, "Holding out for a Hero."  Steve Gleason became a hero for New Orleans when he blocked a punt in the Saints vs. Falcons game in 2006, and for other reasons now, people say he's still a hero, especially people like Linda Rockefeller.  "Of course he's a hero, and she's my other hero, and they're both very special people," said Kyle Rockefeller.

Money from the event will go to the Gleason Family Trust to help offset the costs of living with ALS.  In the advanced stages, care for patients could cost more than $200,000 a year.

Burning the Sacramentary? Not me...

What can you do with an old sacramentary? Here’s one suggestion:

After the switch to a new Mass translation, old liturgical books should be respectfully buried, either intact or after being burned, according to the U.S. bishops.
“Whether or not the Sacramentary has been blessed by an official rite, it is appropriate to treat it with care,” the bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship said in a recent response to several queries from U.S. Catholics. “Its disposal should be handled with respect.”
The bishops’ liturgy office recommends “burying the Sacramentary in an appropriate location on church grounds, or perhaps in a parish cemetery,” after the switch to a new liturgical translation on Nov. 27.
“Some have even suggested following a custom used in various Eastern churches,” they noted, “whereby liturgical books or Bibles are placed in the coffin of the deceased as a sign of devotion and love for the liturgy.”
Some Catholics may be surprised to learn that it is appropriate – and even customary – to burn or bury old liturgical books and other religious items.
According to the U.S. bishops’ secretariat, the ashes of liturgical books should be collected and “placed in the ground in an appropriate location on church grounds.”

>>>The above article I saw over at one of my favorite Catholic blogs that goes by the Deacon's Bench authored by Deacon Greg Kandra.  He gives us the official word on how the old Sacramentary's should be disposed of.  I certainly have heard of reverently burning and/or burying religious items.  I do, however, find the idea of burning the Sacramentary extreme.  Whether you are in the camp that the Sacramentary needed to go or you did not want to see it go, it is gone.  The new Roman Missal is certainly in effect.  But with the old Sacramentary is not only the sacred words of Mass but the sacred history of our Church for the last 40 years.  For many ordained ministers, including yours truly, the Sacramentary was a gift and often a gift upon ordination.  I forever remember receiving my Sacramentary as a gift and I used it in homily preparation, to learn how to turn the pages and in my ministry at the prison.  For me, the Sacramentary will remain in my home office, prominent on my shelves of other important books, many of them gifts too!

No burning or burying here; just me!

New Orleans plans aggressive fight against homelessness

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plan addresses problems of homeless

Published: Monday, November 28, 2011
The laid-off nursing assistant with two small children needs only a few months' rent to stave off homelessness. The mentally ill man who lived with his sister before Hurricane Katrina may require an apartment for the rest of his life, plus someone to check in on him. The 18-year-old who aged out of the state's foster system shows promise but needs a mentor, job training and stable housing. The city of New Orleans wants to find ways to address the needs, however wide-ranging, of each of these homeless people through a 10-year "plan to end homelessness" that Mayor Mitch Landrieu will announce today.
The 34-page plan is a road map for how the city will address its astronomical homeless population, which more than doubled in the years after Hurricane Katrina and now stands at approximately 6,500, one of the highest in the nation in sheer numbers despite the city's modest size.
The planning process started last summer after Landrieu hired the city's first "homelessness czar," Stacy Horn-Koch. It coupled the work of local panels of homeless advocates, neighborhood leaders and businesspeople with input from national experts. Homeless advocates from other cities brought ideas that are working elsewhere.
Other cities have had success with carefully run "low-barrier" shelters that don't turn away people who arrive drunk or high or with untreated mental illness. The idea is simply to earn the trust of "service-resistant" homeless people who have learned to keep their guard up. Once they drop their guard, advocates can engage them in a more straightforward way, guiding them to services and housing.
The plan's other new initiatives include a public-private Homeless Trust through the Greater New Orleans Foundation to finance "innovative and bold initiatives" to serve the city's homeless, a 24-hour homeless-service center housed at the now-shuttered VA hospital building, and a new partnership between the city and the Downtown Development District to finance street outreach to clear high-traffic areas downtown.
The city also will add nearly 3,000 permanent-housing beds to its current stock along with a few hundred additional shelter beds. And its Office of Community Development will give preferences in its affordable-housing work to developers who commit to serving homeless constituents.
Hundreds of other cities and states have created similar plans to end homelessness, and the federal government released its own plan last year. But it's been six years since New Orleans wrote such a plan. The result "helps to galvanize the entire community around the tragedy of homelessness, " said Martha Kegel, who heads up Unity of Greater New Orleans, a continuum of 63 social-services agencies that work with the homeless.
First, they need a home
Even 25 years ago, few would have broached the idea of ending homelessness. Administrators who ran soup kitchens and shelters tried to keep people comfortable, but they believed that people needed to be "housing-ready" before they could move into their own places, that alcoholics needed to first get sober and mentally ill people needed to take medication regularly. Some shelters still operate that way.
But a few decades ago, researcher Dennis Culhane found that the "chronically homeless," who have often lived for years on the streets, make up only 10 percent of the homeless population but consume the bulk of services. Culhane, now the head of a University of Pennsylvania social-service lab, found that the chronically homeless ran up annual public-service bills topping $42,000 as they cycled through emergency rooms, jails, courts, hospitals and shelters.
For about $1,000 more, Culhane estimated, the city could place these vulnerable people into government-subsidized apartments, combined with intensive social services. Soon other ground-breaking work created a successful template for what's now called "Housing First," which moves even the most ill, vulnerable homeless people into permanent housing.
New Orleans' proportion of chronically homeless is twice that of other cities, and those are the people who often are seen camped out in public areas. But since Katrina, Unity agencies and the city have made a significant dent in that population by housing more than 2,000 people who had previously set up bedrolls in the city's abandoned buildings and within large squalid camps in Duncan Plaza, underneath Interstate 10 at Canal Street and, most recently, under the Pontchartrain Expressway.
Most advocates and government officials now believe that what the homeless most need is housing. Other problems, no matter how large, are best addressed once someone has a roof over his head. "Housing, and the availability of affordable housing, is the ultimate solution to homelessness, " the city's plan declares.
Family homelessness has been increasing in recent years, and so the city's plan, like the federal plan it mirrors, specifies steps to address that growing group, a casualty of the national recession.
"The chronic homeless are basically recession-proof," said Don Thompson, who runs the Harry Tompson Center for the homeless at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Tulane Avenue. "But any uptick you see in families is almost always going to be due to the economy."
Expanding services
Nationally, at some point during each year, up to 10 percent of all poor people become homeless, according to the Urban Institute. That revolving door may be busier in New Orleans because of its high poverty rate.
One of the challenges acknowledged by the city's plan is tracking people and coordinating those resources to better combat homelessness at its earlier stages -- before, as Horn-Koch says, they become the "most vulnerable."
Horn-Koch previously led Covenant House New Orleans, a facility for homeless youth, where she saw children delivered by state foster-care workers days before their 18th birthday, when the state is no longer responsible for their care. So she knows first-hand the need for the plan's emphasis on "discharge planning," which ensures that people leaving hospitals, prisons and foster care exit to a stable home, not the streets. Other cities have found that 60 percent of those in homeless shelters came directly from some sort of institution: a hospital or the foster and correctional systems.
In recent years, New Orleans has made significant inroads into homelessness, using $9 million of federal stimulus money along with a special set-aside from Road Home money designed to help low-wage families struggling to pay high post-Katrina rents. Between the two pots of money, nearly 4,000 households, most of them working-poor families, were able to stay in their homes because the city helped them pay a few months' rent, a damage deposit or light bill.
Although that money is spent, the city plan predicts it will continue its homeless-prevention work, helping an average of 600 families a year. How it will be financed is unclear. Without the prevention money, the current system is largely focused on very ill, chronically homeless people.
Unity street-outreach workers use a questionnaire that tests for a range of high-risk factors. Using scores from the "vulnerability index," the agency ranks everyone. People who are most likely to die without housing receive the highest priority for the agency's limited supply of government-subsidized housing accompanied by ongoing social services.
But a growing number of people who have lived on the streets of New Orleans for more than a year are not severely disabled and as a result "will never score high enough on the vulnerability index" to get housed, Horn-Koch said. And without a stable place to sleep and bathe, it's nearly impossible for even able-bodied people to find work, she said. As a result, some will stay homeless for too long, becoming more ill and dysfunctional.
Thompson said that he, too, believes an expansion of services makes sense if the ultimate goal is to end all homelessness. He's hopeful about the new plan, but he also worries that, without considerably expanded resources, the vision could become a system that elbows out some of the most ill.

A rare Monday morning, pre go to work post

I find myself on this first Monday of Advent, the first return to work day for me after the Thanksgiving holidays, willing to be a little late for work to make this post.  After these family holidays and the opportunity to usher in Advent and our new Roman Missal, I am reflective about the challenges in our lives.  I could easily sit in this chair all day today, even after the time off, because I've been facing challenges at work.  These challenges have even given me cause to reflect on what direction I want my life to travel in the near future.  However, I am more acutely aware this morning that my focus can, and should shift.

When I leave this house every morning I leave someone who loves and cares for me.  When I arrive at work I am surrounded, for the most part, by good people, many of whom care for me as well.  They are people who I care for and many of whom I genuinely enjoy being with.  My mission at work, not all that unlike my ministry as Deacon, is to care for and serve those who are placed in front of me with a need or a want.  Seems simple enough this morning.

As for the balance of this day, and every day for that matter, I remember that I walk as a child of God, a minister in His holy Church and am blessed by so much more than those things that get me down.  So head up this Monday morning, face the challenges of another day, give thanks to God, not just for the blessings but for the challenges too.  Remember those you love in prayer, pray for those who are struggling today with far greater struggles and rejoice in the gift of your life.  As for the haters and those who like to spew evil and steal your peace; just don't let them.  It's your peace; a free gift from God.  Pray for them, pity them if you must, but don't give them more importance than that which will last; our hope, our joy, our faith and the love of family & friends and the love of God!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Franciscan, preacher, at the Inquisition and a Saint

St. James of the Marches

St. James of the Marches
St. James of the Marches
Feastday: November 28
1391 – November 28, 1476

James Gangala was born at Montebrandone, Ancona. He studied law and then joined the Franciscans at Assisi in 1416. He studied under St. Bernardino of Siena at Fiesole, was ordained when he was twenty-nine, and became an effective and forceful preacher. He worked as a missionary with St. John Capistran in Italy and in Germany, Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary, and in 1426, with John, was named inquisitor against the Fraticelli by Pope St. Martin V. They destroyed thirty-six Fraticelli houses, and their severity (some of the Fraticelli were burned at the stake) and their tactics resulted in great violence and caused many objections. James attended the Council of Basle-Florence, and helped reconcile Hussites, but was unsuccessful in attempts to reconcile the Observant and Conventual Franciscans. In 1456, he was sent to Austria and Hungary to combat the Hussites. He refused offer of the See of Milan, and in 1462 became involved with the Inquisition because of a sermon he preached at Brescia. The case caused a sensation and was referred to Rome; silence was imposed on all parties, and no decision was ever rendered. He died in Naples, where he spent the last three years of his life, on November 28th. He was canonized in 1726 as St. James of the Marches. His feast day is November 28th.

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life

In the new translation of the Roman Missal the dismissal list four options for the Deacon or Priest to use. The options are: Go forth, the Mass is ended or Go in peace or Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord or the one I am drawn to: Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

What I truly like is that these are 4 distinct dismissals that, according to the Roman Missal, have no need for further editorial comment.  In other words, a few of my brother Deacons, and a Priest or two as well, have often ad-libbed their own dismissal.  These are the 4 we will use; period!

What is common in each of the dismissals is the word "Go".  This calls to mind the sending forth that we all understand in the Latin dismissal, ita missa est.  This conveys in English something go, you are sent.  And indeed we are sent forth at the end of Mass.  But to do what?  The dismissal, which we all respond, thanks be to God, is not, and has never been, meant to express thanks you God for getting this Mass to it's end.  All my many years in the pews I'm sure I've heard a few simple Thank God responses. 

When we leave our Sunday celebration of the Mass we are to go forth, back to our homes, families, schools, job, marketplace, wherever we go and live our Catholic faith in our everyday existence.  While we are in God's house on Sundays, listeneing to His Word and receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we are called to live our Catholic faith evveryday, all the time.  And we all can acknowledge right here and now, this is sometimes very hard to do.

So after praying about it for sometime I decided the dismissal that best expresses this reality is: Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.  You may have heard another dismissal today but always focus on their meaning.  Let's get out there everyday and live our lives in imitation of Jesus, serving him by serving our brothers and sisters!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homily for 1st Sunday in Advent...November 26-27th, 2011

Watching and waiting!  The Moody Blues sang a hauntingly beautiful song with this very title: watching and waiting.  In one of their most popular songs, Hall and Oates refer also to watching and waiting.  Yes, watching almost always involves waiting!

Think about our lives here in this region where we live.  We love a Mardi Gras parade, which we actually watch.  But have you been to a Mardi Gras parade lately, watching involves waiting.  Been to a Saints game lately in the Dome or a LSU game in Death Valley?  We actually watch the game, but how many of us are in the stadium, sometimes for hours, waiting.
There are literally dozens upon dozens of things we watch; many times waiting to watch them.

As people of faith, what are we watching and what are we waiting for?  A great question for this first Sunday of Advent!

Advent seems to sneak up on us every year, yet here it is.  Some of us may actually have been waiting for Advent.  And now that it is here, we have plenty to watch.  The liturgical colors have changed so now we are watching the Advent color of purple.  We watch every Sunday in Advent as we light the Advent wreath, just as we did earlier in this liturgy.  Advent is our “happy new year” in the Church.  Advent is the time we set aside for both preparing for the Christmas celebration we are waiting for but also a reminder of the second coming, which we too should all be waiting for.

Our Advent celebration this year brings a change from the Sunday Gospel readings of Matthew, which we finished last Sunday, to Mark which we just heard proclaimed today.  In our Gospel we hear a direct command from Jesus: Be watchful, be alert!  Jesus, who remember taught often in parables from Matthew’s Gospel, offers a short parable today from St. Mark.  He talks to us about a homeowner traveling, the servants and the gatekeeper.  The servants are left to work around the home and the gatekeeper is specifically ordered to watch!  And what is the gatekeeper watching for?  The answer: the return of the homeowner.  And we hear one warning in this short parable; don’t be asleep when the homeowner returns; no, be prepared, stay alert, be vigilant.  Watch!

As we hear this Gospel we may find ourselves asking the question, what does this have to do with the coming of the baby Jesus?  How is this a story of Advent or the coming Christmas celebration?  Well, perhaps it is not; instead this is a story of the second coming of Jesus.  Yes, Advent is about the preparation of our Christmas celebration, where we rejoice in the birth of the babe of Bethlehem, the incarnation of the Word of God.  But Advent is also an important reminder about the second coming of Jesus.  In fact, during Advent, the theme of the Gospels for the first two weeks of Advent is always about His second coming. 

The Church is the household and Jesus is the lord of the house; just as He truly is Lord of Heaven & earth.  The servants are all of us; the members of His Church.  We are to do the work of His Church while we sojourn here on earth; being watchful and alert to His second coming.  The gatekeeper Jesus refers to is our own souls, helping us to be prepared and not fall asleep as we await the Master’s coming(His second coming).  In this Gospel Jesus is preparing us for His second coming by foretelling of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; an event that did occur around the year 70 A.D.

How does the Master want us to prepare in this first week of Advent?  What can we do today, and in the next few days to be alert; to watch?  Our first opportunity is right here among us today as we celebrate Mass using the new Roman Missal.  Did we come fully prepared today to worship Him prayerfully using the new prayers and texts?  If we find ourselves under prepared, we have an entire week before we return next Sunday so spend some time praying with these new responses this week.  Do we stay alert and watchful by keeping our focus on Advent, realizing that Christmas is a holy season yet to come, not the ho-ho holidays already here; as the world tries to convince us.  Does our family celebrate with an Advent wreath in our homes?  You can purchase one right here today in Church.  What a wonderful reminder of the season of Advent and help support our ministries of charity at the same time.  And finally, can we remain alert and watchful by doing something tangible for our brother and sister?  Our coat drive remains in full swing but our November days have been unseasonably warm.  We could use more coats for both adults and children.  The weather is turning colder this very week ahead of us.  In the spirit of Advent and in the spirit of being good servants and gatekeepers, drop off one coat for one brother or sister this week!

Waiting and watching; more than beautiful lyrics, more than what we do at a special event.  Waiting and watching for the return of our Master, our Lord, Jesus Himself will help us to be prepared; to be ready for His coming at Christmas and His coming again!

Hurry up and wait; and Watch!

Pope Benedict speaks directly to U S Bishops

POPE-ADLIMINA Nov-26-2011 (910 words) xxxiAddressing U.S. bishops, pope defends church efforts on sex abuseBy John ThavisCatholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a speech to U.S. bishops, Pope Benedict XVI defended the church's "honest efforts" to confront the priestly sex abuse scandal with transparency, and said its actions could help the rest of society respond to the problem.

While the church is rightly held to high standards, all other institutions should be held to the same standards as they address the causes, extent and consequences of sexual abuse, which has become a "scourge" at every level of society, the pope said Nov. 26.

On wider issues, including the institution of marriage, the pope encouraged the bishops to speak out "humbly yet insistently in defense of moral truth." Responding to the challenges of a secularized culture will first require the "re-evangelization" of the church's own members, he said.

The pope made the remarks in a speech to bishops from the state of New York, who were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits. The group was led by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who as president of the U.S. bishops' conference has spoken of the need to restore the church's credibility and its evangelizing capacity.

The pope began his talk by recalling his 2008 visit to the United States, which he said was aimed at encouraging Catholics in the wake of the sex abuse crisis. He said he wanted to acknowledge the suffering inflicted on victims as well as the church's efforts to ensure the safety of children and deal "appropriately and transparently with allegations" of abuse.

"It is my hope that the church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society," the pope said.

"By the same token, just as the church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards," he said.

Pope Benedict's speech was the first in a series of five talks he is expected to deliver in coming months, as 15 groups of U.S. bishops make their consultative visits to Rome. He said he planned to focus primarily on the urgent task of "new evangelization."

The pope said many of the U.S. bishops had shared with him their concern about the "grave challenges" presented by an increasingly secularized society in the United States. He said it was also interesting to note a widespread worry about the future of democratic society in general, by people who see "a troubling breakdown in the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of social life" and growing insecurity about the future.

He suggested that the church could and should have a key role in responding to these deep changes in society.

"Despite attempts to still the church's voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance in meeting this far-reaching crisis," he said.

In that sense, he added, the present moment is "a summons to exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defense of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free."

At the same time, the pope said, the seriousness of the challenges facing the church in the United States cannot be underestimated. He said one big problem was that secularization affects the lives of Catholic, leading at times to "quiet attrition" among the church's members.

"Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts," he said.

For that reason, he said, modern evangelization is not something aimed only at people outside the church.

"We ourselves are the first to need re-evangelization," he said. That must include critical and ongoing self-assessment and conversion, and interior renewal in the light of the Gospel, he said.

The pope praised the U.S. bishops for their response to the issues raised by increasing secularization, and their efforts to articulate a common pastoral vision. He cited as examples the bishops' recent documents on political responsibility and on the institution of marriage.

In the end, the pope said, the effectiveness of the church's witness to the Gospel in the United States is linked to "the recovery of a shared vision and sense of mission by the entire Catholic community."

He said Catholic universities have an important role in promoting this renewal and ensuring the success of "new evangelization," especially among younger generations.

"Young people have a right to hear clearly the church's teaching and, most importantly, to be inspired by the coherence and beauty of the Christian message, so that they in turn can instill in their peers a deep love of Christ and his church," he said.

The pope also spoke about the implementation of the revised translation of the Roman Missal, which is being introduced in the United States during Advent. He thanked the bishops for making this a moment of catechesis about the liturgy, saying that a weakened sense of the meaning of Christian worship inevitably leads to a weakened witness of the faith.

He said consolidating America's "proud tradition of respect for the Sabbath" would help renew U.S. society in accordance with God's "unchanging truth."


And with your spirit; the Deacon at the 1st Mass with the New Roman Missal

I assisted and survived!!  Tonight I assisted my first Mass as Deacon using the new Roman Missal at Most Holy Trinity Church in Covington, La.  We have prepared for months and we supplied all the pew cards and new missalettes but you just never know to you "go live".  So Mass begins and Fr. gives us the opening greeting and you could hear it: a combination of and also with you and the new and with your spirit.  Overall, not bad, because the new response was dominant.  Then we prayed the confetior, both Fr. and I used our booklet to be sure.  I must admit, hearing through my fault, through my fault, through my most grevious fault, sounded great!  The opening prayer(known as the collect) was so theologically rich.  After the readings and homily we stood to pray the "I believe" not the "we believe".  It did not sound like anyone had any problem with praying "consubstantial" or "incarnate".  We moved to the offertory and Fr. decided to chant the responses and the preface.  Everyone remembered "and with your spirit" and it is "right and just".  As we sang the Sanctus, no problems at all; why?  We have practiced this prayer for a month.  The beautiful words of the Eucharistic Prayer tonight just seemed richer, more spiritual.  As we moved along, everything was as before to we reached that important moment right before Communion.  We prayed tonight: Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, only say the word and my soul shall be healed.  Beautiful prayer; I did pick up some awkwardness here as I think everyone was looking at the Eucharist(as they should be) and forgot all the words without eyes on the missalette.

After communion we heard that beautiful prayer and for the dismissal I choose the option: Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life!

And it was over; our first Mass using the Roman Missal and we are all in one piece!! 

Maybe its just me but the Mass seemed more alive, the responses more robust and the language more reverent and liturgically rich.

Thanks Pope John Paul II for this new translation and Pope Benedict for bringing it to the finish line!

Happy New Year; Happy Advent and bring on the New Roman Missal

>>>Happy Church New Year; Happy and Holy Advent and Happy 1st day ever with the 3rd edition of the new Roman Missal!

I am so excited today...first of all Advent may be my favorite season in the Church although I got no problems with any of the seasons...I just love what Advent means.  And for this Advent we begin the beautiful language of the new Roman Missal.

Here is an article I posted last year, or the year before all about Advent; enjoy:

All about Advent From the USCCB website:

About Advent

Advent (ad-venio in Latin or "to come to") begins the Church year and consists of the four Sundays before Christmas. The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. Advent devotions remind us of the meaning of the season. Special Advent Devotions: the lighting of the Advent wreath each Sunday during Advent; the Advent calendar helps remind us of the season with daily thoughts and activities; Advent prayers prepare us spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent Wreath
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.

Advent Prayers
Advent prayers call to mind our preparation for the Lord's coming on Christmas and His second coming at the end of the world. The Advent theme of preparing one spiritually requires special Advent prayers focused on waiting, watching, and hoping for the Lord's coming. Many Advent prayer books include daily prayers, while others involve the writings of popular Catholics including Pope John Paul II or Fulton Sheen. Other prayers are meant specifically to be said along with an Advent wreath.

Advent Calendar
The Advent Calendar is believed to have been created in the early 19th century to mark the days of Advent leading up to Christmas. Advent calendars of today usually count down the 24 days of December ending on Christmas Eve. Popular amongst children Advent calendars are a joyful activity that helps children learn about preparing for Jesus' birth. Some Advent calendars have doors to open that reveal some symbol of Advent or Christmas, while others have symbols that are individually placed on the calendar for each day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Patron Saint of altar servers

St. John Berchmans

St. John Berchmans
St. John Berchmans
Feastday: November 26
Patron of Altar Servers

Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He early wanted to be a priest, and when thirteen became a servant in the household of one of the Cathedral canons at Malines, John Froymont. In 1615, he entered the newly founded Jesuit College at Malines, and the following year became a Jesuit novice. He was sent to Rome in 1618 to continue his studies, and was known for his diligence and piety, impressing all with his holiness and stress on perfection in little things. He died there on August 13. Many miracles were attributed to him after his death, and he was canonized in 1888. He is the patron of altar servers. His feast day is November 26.

The new Roman Missal as reported in the New Orleans local newspaper

Catholics worldwide see new Roman Missal translations at Masses this weekend

Published: Friday, November 25, 2011, 7:40 PM
Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
This weekend for the first time, English speaking Catholics in New Orleans and in churches around the world will pray a new translation of the ancient Mass, learning the new sounds and rhythms of texts subjected to the most thorough reworking in almost 40 years. The result, said Archbishop Gregory Aymond, will be a retranslated Mass more faithful to the prayers of early Christians, one that deliberately reaches for formal and sometimes poetic expression.
gregory_aymond_sacred_heart_mass.jpgArchbishop Gregory Aymond celebrates Mass on Oct. 23 at the dedication of a new arts and athletics complex at The Academy of the Sacred Heart. October 23 2011
The translation, formally the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, returns more explicitly to Scripture and continues to prefer references to “man” and “men” as stand-ins for humanity. The new version also contains a few technical theological terms, including “consubstantial” and “oblation,” that may leave the faithful baffled.
It will be less colloquial, and perhaps more high-toned and less user-friendly for everyday Catholics. That threatens “a pastoral disaster” in the view of some critics, like Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was among a minority of American bishops publicly dismayed by the final product.
But American bishops overwhelmingly approved the changes, which have been more than a decade in the making.
Bishops and pastors briefing their parishioners over recent months have repeatedly emphasized that nothing of the underlying theology of the Eucharist has changed, only the translations of prayers .
The changes will not be nearly so jarring as switching to English in the first place, part of the revolution worked by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
But they certainly will be noticeable to that 22 percent of Catholics who, according the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, attend Mass weekly or more.
The changes go back to 2000, when Pope John Paul II ordered a new edition of the Roman Missal, the collection of daily and Sunday Masses used by the worldwide church.
The updated edition contains a few new Masses for special occasions. And it contains texts for Masses offered for recently canonized saints, including Katharine Drexel, founder of Xavier University. Her Mass is celebrated on March 3.
Beyond that, the Vatican ordered a new English re-translation of all prayers, from top to bottom. In particular, it wanted more literal translations of Latin prayers reaching back to the 6th century, and a more elevated tone to the prayers.
For critics, like Trautman, the changes produce prayers that sound stilted, archaic and too often obscure.
“Again and again proclaimablility and comprehension are sacrificed for the sake of maintaining the Latin single-sentence structure,” he wrote in U.S. Catholic magazine last year.
But the retranslation has its fans, as well, who say the new work offers a sense of exaltation and recovers Scripture references that early Christians knew so well.
For instance, a frequent prayer before the consecration of bread and wine that until now observed that people gather “so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made,” becomes re-translated, “so that from the rising of the sun to its setting,” a sacrifice may be offered. Advocates like the more poetic language, as well as the recovery of the specific Scriptural images in Isaiah, Malachi and Psalm 113.
“Those Catholics who grumble about the new translation without looking at the Latin have no idea how much has been lost to us English speakers these last 40 years,” wrote Anthony Esolen, a professor of English at Providence College in the journal First Things.
One new passage has produced a good deal of attention on a matter of substance, not style.

At the dramatic center of the Mass, Christ’s description of his impending death now refers to his sacrifice “for you and for many.” To many ears, that suggests his death was not for “for you and for all,” a core Christian teaching, as the previous version said.
But the Vatican explains the change as the correct translation of the original Latin. And it says the prayer acknowledges that Christ’s sacrifice “for many” rather than “all” means only that salvation is not automatic, but still hinges on individual acceptance.
Aymond is among those who believe the global church in the late 1960s underestimated how the switch to Mass in local languages would leave a significant minority of Catholics feeling spiritually impoverished, despite the gains in accessibility.
“I think the church did not do a good job in preparing people (back then),” he said this week. “This time, those of us who went through that said, ‘We want to get this right.’”
So the American bishops, led by Aymond’s Committee on Divine Worship, months ago began rolling out an extensive education campaign in the country’s nearly 18,000 Catholic parishes, including the 100 or so around New Orleans.
Parishioners were invited to workshops, pastors have used parts of Masses to explain the upcoming changes, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has produced an array of online videos, DVDs and other teaching materials.
Some prayers sung to new musical accompaniment were unveiled weeks ago so worshippers could learn the new music.
But around the English speaking world, from North America to Australia and South Africa, all the changes roll out today, the vigil of the first Sunday in Advent, which is the first weekend of the church’s liturgical year.
Aymond and others said it will take a few weeks for regular church-goers to become comfortable with translations in the missal’s third edition.
But in New Orleans, he has announced that the archdiocese will use the changes in the new missal as a jumping off point for a year’s worth of coordinated teaching on the meaning of the Mass in Catholic life.

Bruce Nolan can be reached at 504.826.3344, or

LSU 12-0 and still #1; beats Arkansas handily

The LSU Fighting football Tigers overcame a slow start and handily defeated the #3 Arkansas Razorbacks giving the #1 Tigers their first ever 12-0 regular season finish, 8-0 in the SEC and yet another SEC West Division championship.  For the second time this year LSU had to play what was called the game of the century, having earlier dispatched Alabama and now tonight Arkansas.  And lest we forget, this same LSU team, which has to endure the rigors of the SEC west schedule, started the season with a big win over Oregon, who were early favorites to win it all this year.  And LSU absolutely destroyed Auburn, last years champs, although Auburn is not that great this year.

LSU did it tonight by coming back from a 14-0 deficit.  In fact, it was just a matter of minutes and it was 2-14 LSU.  A huge punt return by Tyran Mathieu made this possible.  And then LSU simply took over with relentless defense and a punishing running game.

And now LSU is poised to face Georgia in next weeks SEC championship which is always played in the Atlanta Georgia Dome.  Maybe in the future they will move this game to a real stadium, the Superdome!

Tonight I'm just as thankful as I can be that I''m lucky enough to be a LSU Tiger fan.  What this program has done, especially under the Les Miles regime is amazing and has kept this program among the NCAA elite programs.  They are winners, year in and year out.  And hopefully, LSU will be playing for it's 3rd national championship in 8 years among the many other division and conference and bowl championships won over this time period.

LSU Tigers; proud to support them!  Geaux Tigers!!

Fr. Robert Barron on the new translation we begin tomorrow

November 23, 2011
Why we should welcome the new Roman Missal

By Father Robert Barron *

In just a few days, Catholics in this country will notice a rather significant change when they come to Mass. Commencing the first Sunday of Advent, the Church will be using a new translation of the Roman Missal. I would like to emphasize, at the outset, that this in no way represents a return to “the old Mass,” for the Latin texts that provide the basis for the new translation were all approved after Vatican II. So why the change? What had come increasingly to bother a number of bishops, priests, and liturgists over the years was that the translation of the liturgical texts, which was made in some haste in the late 60s of the last century, was not sufficiently faithful to the Latin and was, at least in some instances, informed by questionable theological assumptions. And so, over the course of many years, two groups in particular—ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and Vox Clara (a committee of bishops, liturgical experts, and linguists from around the English-speaking world)—labored over a new translation. This work was approved by the United States Bishops’ Conference and finally by the Vatican, and Advent 2011 was determined to be the time to begin use of the new Missal.

What marks these new texts? They are, I would argue, more courtly, more theologically rich, and more Scripturally poetic than the current prayers—and this is all to the good. An unmistakable feature of the Latin liturgical texts is their nobility and stately seriousness. They were composed by people who clearly knew that liturgical prayer is a manner of addressing Almighty God, the Lord of heaven and earth. Accordingly, they utilized not the language of the street or of the market or political forum, but instead, the speech appropriate at the court of a King to whom supplication is being made. Or to situate things more in the context of our culture: they employ the kind of speech one might use in addressing the president in a formal letter or the recipient of an honorary degree at a university commencement exercise. Now when these texts were rendered into English in the late 60s of the last century, they were translated in accord with certain definite cultural tendencies of that time. Starting in the 1960s, we began to prize speech that is blunt, clear, direct, casual and unadorned. And we developed a prejudice against language that seems fussy or overly ornamental. To see a vivid illustration of this shift, compare the sermons of John Henry Newman or Fulton J. Sheen to almost any sermon delivered today.

But what this gave us, many came to see, was a certain flattening out of the language of the liturgy, a rendering pedestrian of that which ought to be elevated. I will give just one example from hundreds that I could have chosen. Here is the prayer that we currently offer as the opening collect for Tuesday of the first week of Advent: “God of mercy and consolation, help us in our weakness and free us from sin. Hear our prayers that we may rejoice at the coming of your Son.” Pretty clear, direct, straightforward. Now here is the new translation of the same Latin prayer: “Look with favor, Lord God, on our petitions, and in our trials grant us your compassionate help that, consoled by the presence of your Son, whose coming we now await, we may be tainted no longer by the corruption of former ways.” We notice first that a great deal of the Latin original was simply not translated in the earlier version, but we also remark that the formality and courtly elegance of the Latin is preserved in the new version.

Next, let us consider the increased theological density of the new translations. It appears to have been a conviction of the translators in the 60s that overly theological language would turn people off and make the liturgy less immediately appealing. A particularly clear example of the application of this principle is the old translation of the post-Communion prayer for the thirtieth Sunday of the year: “Lord, bring to perfection within us the communion we share in this sacrament. May our celebration have an effect in our lives.” That prayer, I think you’ll agree, is rather bland and inelegant, landing, as one wag put it, “with a thud in heaven.” But it is also remarkably lacking in theological density and precision. Effect? What kind of effect? Good, bad, sacred, secular, psychological? Now listen to the new translation of the same Latin prayer: “May your sacraments, O Lord, we pray, perfect in us what lies within them, that what we now celebrate in signs we may one day possess in truth.” In a rather pithy formula, we find both a subtle theology of grace as well as a presentation of the eschatological dimension of the sacraments. Now we know fairly precisely what the “effect” is that we’re praying for.

Finally, let us look at the richly poetic and Scriptural quality of the new translations. Once more, it seems to have been a conscious decision of the earlier translators that much of the poetic imagery of the Bible—so evident in the Latin originals—should be trimmed from the English versions. I will give one example of dozens I could have chosen. The older translation of the opening collect for the first Sunday of Advent runs, in part, as follows: “All powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming…” And here is the new version of the same prayer: “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.” Our longing for Christ was pretty blandly communicated in the earlier version as “eager;” but in the new translation, it is given wonderfully rich expression as “running forth to meet” the Lord. If the new prayers sometimes won’t seem as immediately understandable as their predecessors, we should remember that poetry is generally harder to grasp than prose, but infinitely richer than prose in its evocative and descriptive power.

There has been, over the past several decades, an enormous debate concerning this process of translation. If you doubt me, dip into blogs written by liturgists—if you dare. But the Church has given us these new texts, and I think it is wise for us to accept them in a positive spirit. We will find in time, I believe, that they will deepen and enrich our prayer together.

* Father Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein. He is the creator and host of a new 10 episode documentary series called "Catholicism" and also hosts programs on Relevant Radio, EWTN and at