Una Voce Des Moines

Promoting the Traditional Latin Mass in Central Iowa

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Fr. Cassian celebrates Mass for St. John the Baptist

American-born Benedictine monk, Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., prior emeritus of the Monks of Norcia, was in town the weekend of June 23/24 to celebrate Sunday Mass at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.  Here are some photos, and his beautiful homily for the occasion.


Homily from Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B.
St. Anthony Catholic Church
Des Moines, Iowa

Sunday, June 24, 2018
Feast of St. John the Baptist

All those who heard about the divinely-inspired birth of St. John the Baptist, and how Zechariah’s tongue was loosed in the naming of the child, marveled at these things.  “All those who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying ‘what then will this child be?’” (Lk 1:66)

First of all, he will be the Baptist, the baptizer of Christ.  This is not a baptism for the remission of sins, clearly, but the occasion for a great epiphany, the manifestation of Christ in glory.  The revealing of his true identity as beloved Son of the Father, the inauguration of his public ministry.  When John baptized Jesus, contact with the body of Christ sanctified the waters of the Jordan, and gave to the waters of baptism the spiritual power to wash away all sin – original and actual – and bring about a most wonderful re-birth.  In fact, we were sanctified by these waters to such an extent that

[t]aken up by Christ – and taken on Christ – we are not the same after the laver of baptism as we were before; instead the body of the one reborn becomes the flesh of the crucified (St. Leo, Sermon 63,6).

John baptizes, and the body of Christ is washed, both Head and members.

What then will this child be?  He will be a prophet, the prophet of the Most High.  Who is “the Most High”, but God the Father?  Yet, John is a prophet of the Messiah.  And who is the Messiah, but God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  And can John be a prophet of God the Father and God the Son?  Well, our Lord explains in Gospel:  The Father and I are one.  John is a prophet of the Most Holy Trinity because in the baptism of Christ, the Holy Spirit descends upon him in bodily form as a dove, and the paternal voice came from heaven:  “Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).

If John is a prophet of the Most High, we the baptized are worshipers of the Most High.  The Roman Canon prays for “omnibus cultoribus”:  for all right-believing worshipers of the catholic and apostolic faith.  Our first duty as baptized Catholics, our greatest privilege, our highest calling – is to be worshipers of God, adorers of the Most High.  And in doing so, we prostrate ourselves before the Divine Majesty, imitating the angels and the saints.

John is a prophet of the Most High; we must be right-believing worshipers of the Most High God.

Then, what they will this child be?  He will be the forerunner, for he will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.  John is the one who runs before; Jesus Christ is the giant who comes forth from the bridal chamber of the Virgin’s womb, and rejoices to run his course (Ps 18).  What is the course?  What is this race?  It is the path leading to the cross, which the baptized must run as well.  St. Paul says, on the verge of being martyred:

I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to me on that Day (2 Tim 4:7-8).

John is the forerunner, Christ is the giant who runs his course; we must be formed as athletes of Christ, well-trained to run the glorious race.

And then what will this child be?  He will be the friend of the Bridegroom.  Christ is the Bridegroom, the Bride is the Church.  John explains:

He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice, therefore this joy of mine is now full (Jn 3:29).

We who have been baptized are “children of the wedding feast”.  In one of the parables, Christ says: “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”  The Greek for “wedding guests” is “children of the wedding feast”.  Children of the bridegroom and the bride, for we are born of the virginal womb of the church, the baptismal font.

The bridegroom is Son of God by nature; the children of the bridegroom are sons by adoption – Filii in Filio – sons in the Son.

As we grow in the faith, we become not only children, but friends, for Christ said: “I have called you friends”.  John is the friend of the bridegroom, Christ is the bridegroom; and we are children of the wedding feast.

So, what will this child be then?  He is the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  He is the voice, but Christ is the Word.  We, the baptized, are the Ear that listens to the Word.  St. Benedict begins the Rule by saying “Listen, my son, to the precepts of the Master, and incline the ear of your heart” (Prologue 1).  What does the voice say to the ear of our heart, except “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

Here is a summary of the entire Christian life.  Our life project, you might say.  Love of God must increase; love of self must decrease.  Humility must increase; pride must decrease.  The new man must be born and grown; the old man must fade away and die.

Even the natural elements preach the same Gospel message to us.  For from the summer solstice, from the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the days begin to decrease.  From the winter solstice, the Nativity of our Lord, the days begin to increase.

What does this voice say?  He must increase; I must decrease.  What does the word say?  What does he say to the ear of our heart…to the most intimate core of who we are?  He says: “Listen now, and lay it up in your hearts.  You, too, are my beloved Son.”

New Mid-Year’s Resolutions

New Mid-Year’s Resolutions
by Andy Milam

Most Catholics in the world would love to grow in their relationship with Our Lord. People have a genuine desire to grow in holiness, even if they are not able to articulate their desires for it. On New Year’s Day many people re-evaluate their lives. They examine how their lives were and make resolutions about how the next year can be the best year! Weight loss and eating right will top people’s lists. But why not make some spiritual resolutions as well? Examine how your spiritual life has been and make some sort of resolution starting today.  It’s never too late, even if we’re starting in July!

All too often, when we make resolutions we make too many. Instead of thinking of 5-10 resolutions, why not focus on just one or two? Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Once we begin to fail at our goals, we become discouraged and ultimately give up! If you are interested in igniting your spiritual life, here are a few simple suggestions for some resolutions to a new life during the second half of the year:

Patron Saint for the [New] Year

It is a tradition for people to choose a patron saint for the New Year.  It’s better late than never to pick one for the remainder of this year.  Some people do this by putting several names in a hat and drawing one, but maybe you would like to develop a devotion to a particular saint. St. Faustina wrote of this practice:

“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year’s Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning, during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn’t read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 – the Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.”

If there is a saint that you have been fond of, why not learn more about them this year? Ask for their intercession daily. Want a random saint? The internet is full of stories about the lives of obscure saints! You are bound to find one! Want to know who a patron saint is of something? Google it. Saints are our friends in heaven who pray for us. For me, I’ve dedicated the year to St. Josemaria Escriva and the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

Read the Scriptures

There are many books out there that promote reading the whole bible in a year. Those readings are really long for each day—averaging 20 minutes. Maybe you don’t have time for that much reading. Why not dust off your bible, and begin reading the Gospels? You could start with Matthew, but don’t become discouraged with the genealogy of Jesus! I promise you it gets better!

Choose one of the four gospels and read small excerpts each day. The RSV-CE has headings of stories (called pericopes). Read a small snippet, 5-10 verses a day. You will learn more about Our Lord, and you will come into contact with the living Word of God.

Pray a Decade of the Rosary or the Angelus

Many people want to have a stronger devotion to Mary. Maybe 20 minutes of praying the rosary is a lot of time. (You could pray in your car with a rosary cd or rosary app). Some people find five decades to be a lot! Why not pray a decade a day? In five days’ time you will have completed one set of mysteries. Then begin again. There is power in the Hail Mary prayer — each time we ask Mary to pray for us “now and at the hour of death”. I don’t know about you, but I need the Madonna’s prayers right now, and especially at death.

If the rosary doesn’t appeal to you, there are many other Marian devotions. The Angelus is quite simple and can be prayed once a day or three times (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Find the Marian devotion that suits you and go with it.

Do Spiritual Reading

There are treasuries of spiritual books out there and reading a small portion for five minutes a day can be of great benefit. St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul is a favorite for many! Maybe you are attracted to the Divine Mercy devotion, and would like to read the Diary of Faustina. The saints have written many books that will surely lift you up. Spiritual masters note that when we do not do spiritual reading, our spiritual lives begin to lag. Pick up a book today!

Listen to Catholic CDs or Radio

Lighthouse Catholic Media produces many CDs about the Catholic life. Many parishes (including St. Anthony’s!) make these CDs available in their vestibules for a small donation. Consider listening to a CD each month. Lighthouse Catholic Media makes this easy by offering a small monthly subscription service. Listening to these CDs will bring you to a greater understanding of your Catholic faith.

In addition to CDs, most cities throughout the US have Catholic Radio, be it Iowa Catholic Radio, Relevant Radio, Radio Maria or EWTN Radio. Take a listen and you will see how adding a Catholic culture to your life will make a positive difference.

Pray Before and After Meals

As a young person, you might have prayed simple, catchy prayers before meals. Each of us should be grateful when we sit down for a meal because there are many in the world who go hungry each day. If you don’t regularly express gratitude to God for the food you have received, consider starting. When we give thanks before and after meals we cultivate an attitude of gratitude which will pervade beyond the food we eat into every aspect of our lives.

Do a Nightly Examination of Conscience

Before we go to Confession, it is recommended that we examine our consciences. Many pamphlets exist that help us to do this. One spiritual practice employed by some is a nightly examination of conscience. In addition to calling to mind one’s failings of the day, a person also recalls the blessings of the day — how God was at work in their life.  Consider pausing each night before bed, and reflecting on the movements of your day. Be thankful. Be contrite. Ask God for help in whatever tomorrow will bring.

In addition to our physical health conscious goals, we must also be conscious of our spiritual life when making our annual resolutions. There are many other suggestions — like going to a daily Mass once a week, frequenting Confession once a month, etc.

The remainder of this year can be a time to grow in holiness. It begins with a simple goal and not biting off more than you can chew. Together, let us all strive to love the Lord more each day this year by putting Him at the center of our life.

 


Andy Milam is the Coordinator of Public Relations, Marketing, Fundraising and Tourism at the ‎Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption, an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and the Liturgical Coordinator for Una Voce Des Moines.

Hebdomades Octo

by Dr. Kevin Kilcawley, PsyD

Last year, my family accepted a challenge: attend the Tridentine Mass for eight consecutive weeks. The challenge came from a podcast from Fr. Chad Ripperger, who proposes that when it comes to liturgy, an invitation can be more efficacious than an argument:  instead of telling we should show. Fr. Ripperger advises that we invite a person to attend the Tridentine Mass for eight consecutive weeks, then have him or her return to the Novus Ordo to reflect on the differences.

Why eight weeks?

Our sensibilities and dispositions change as we develop new habits and routines; three to eight weeks is a good measure of how long it may take to build a new habit.  One may ask: why it’s important to change our sensibilities? I believe what often turns people away from the Tridentine Mass has nothing to do with a lack of intellectual formation, and everything to do with the formation of senses. Or rather, how one is inclined towards sensible objects:  what attracts or repels us.

Prior to the challenge, my family and I had attended the Tridentine Mass on a handful of occasions, but never consistently. Honestly, each time I went, I felt lost and confused, not knowing what to do or say next. My senses had difficulty apprehending: the prolonged periods of silence, the whispered prayers by the priest at the foot of the altar, the sounds of chanting coming from the schola, attending to an unknown language; the list could go on. I would then return to the Novus Ordo and my senses would welcome the familiarity.

My Experience

During the eight week challenge, there was no returning. For about two weeks, the same experience surfaced: not knowing how to participate, not knowing what part of the Mass the priest was saying, and not knowing how to respond.

The turning point in helping me recognize a fundamental aspect to the eight week challenge was the idea of passive participation.  We have to be receptive in order to allow our sensibilities to be changed. During the first two weeks, I was imposing the familiar onto the new, the Novus Ordo onto the Tridentine Mass. In other words, I was too focused on what to do; being overly concerned with a more active participation.

By adopting a passive mindset, it allowed my senses to also become passive, as they naturally should be.  Our senses receive reality, they don’t impose on it. As each week progressed, parts of the Mass became familiar. More importantly, my experience attending Mass in general changed; my participation was to *rest* in the Mass, instead of acting in the Mass. As a result, there was a natural adoption of learning the responses and identifying and recognizing the parts of the liturgy; just as a child naturally develops a language just by being receptive.

And now?

Fr. Ripperger asks, once completing the challenge, to reflect upon the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo and notice the differences. The dispositions I developed during the challenge instilled in me an attraction towards sacred silence and mystery.

What once caused confusion and feeling lost, instead was now bringing me deeper into the Mass. Now that the challenge is over, my senses do not find the Novus Ordo as ‘familiar’ as they once did.

 

———————————-

Dr. Kevin Kilcawley is a clinical psychologist and founder of Integrative Psychology Services. He seeks to improve the practice of modern psychology with a holistic and Thomistic understanding of the human person, where mental health means more than just the absence of symptoms – it is a life engaged in what is true, good and beautiful.

Suggestions for Those New to the Latin Mass

The following guest post was written by Father Eric Andersen, pastor of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon. St. Stephen’s is a parish which offers both forms of the Roman Rite.

Many Catholics do not know their liturgical heritage. Experiencing a Solemn Traditional Latin Mass for the first time can seem so unfamiliar. At first, one might feel disoriented. What is going on? How do I participate?

If you are new to the Latin Mass, my recommendation to you is not to worry about how to participate. Put down the booklet all together. Watch and listen in the silence and let your prayer arise. Have no expectations. Let yourself be surprised. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide. Treat this time like a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Realize that during this Holy Hour, something magnificent is happening: Jesus Christ, the High Priest, is offering the Holy Sacrifice.

As you observe in silence, get the big picture first. You know more than you think. You already know the basic structure of the Mass: Procession, Incensing of altar, Kyrie, Gloria, Opening Prayer, readings, Sermon, Credo, Offertory, more incense, Preface, Sanctus, Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I in silence), Pater Noster (Our Father), Agnus Dei, Communion, Ablutions (purifying the vessels), Closing Prayer, Blessing, Recession.

There are some other moments you might not be so familiar with, such as the Sprinkling Rite, the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel (The Prologue of St. John). Observe them. Take it all in and get the big picture. Don’t worry about what to say or do. Just follow the directives to sit, stand, or kneel as they are given. If you know the chants and responses, sing along. Otherwise, don’t worry about it at this point.

After one or two Masses participating in this way, then pick up and read through the missalette before the Mass starts. Look at the basic structure of the Mass so you know ahead of time what your road map will be. Once you know where you are going, an appropriate way to participate is to pray the Mass like the Divine Office, silently praying the words in English, while the priest prays them quietly in Latin.

If I could not hear anything, I would still know exactly where the priest was in the Mass by watching it. Whereas, if I were to attend the modern Roman Rite of the Mass, without hearing anything, I would need a translator using sign language, or pointing to the right place in the booklet, to tell me what was happening at any moment in the Mass. Why is that?

The reason is that the modern Roman Rite relies upon the spoken word. On the other hand, the Traditional Roman Rite communicates on various non-linguistic levels, relying heavily on ceremony to communicate what is happening. The spoken words are veiled behind a sacred language, and also veiled in silence because the Canon is prayed in a whisper. Fr. James W. Jackson, FSSP writes:

“The chants of the Sanctus are followed by profound silence, the first time in the Mass for silence of this depth––silence from the priest and silence from the faithful. This calls to mind not only the high priest of old going into the Holy of Holies alone, but also that the carrying of the Cross has come to an end, and Christ is now nailed to it.…The silence of the whole congregation––even if there are priests in attendance or if a bishop is attending––humbles us, as it is symbolic of the fact that none of the apostles or disciples raised their voices in defense of Christ at any time during His Passion” (Nothing Superfluous, p. 200).

Go see for yourself, and let the Traditional Latin Mass surprise you.

Originally published at LiturgyGuy.com

Holy Week Traditional Liturgies

Looking for some Traditional Liturgies during the Triduum?
Holy Thursday @ 5:30pm
Easter Sunday @ 5:00pm
@ St. Anthony Church
15 Indianola Rd.
Des Moines, IA  50315

A Monastic Reflection on our Spiritual Battle During Lent

(Image taken from here.)

Since the time of Adam and Eve, there exists a spiritual battle between the faithful and the powers of darkness; it’s a battle that will continue until the end of the world.  In this battle, there are two armies:  on the one hand, Satan and his demons; on the other, St. Michael and the Christians.

You might ask:  why St. Michael, and not Christ himself, given that St. Benedict speaks of the monastic life as military service under the banner of Christ, the true King?  The reason is simple and employs the principle of aequitas.  Satan is an angel, Michael is an angel, and so, the battlefield is the same.  Christ, on the other hand, is true God and true man, and has already fought the good fight:  mors et vita duello conflixere mirando:  death and life contended in a spectacular battle, recites the Easter Sequence (cf. Victimae  Paschali laudes).  So, the Lord leaves the battlefield to us, helping us with his grace.  In today’s Gospel, Christ offers us important insights so that we might conquer this spiritual battle.

Two Armies

The fights between the two armies (the demons and us) need education and training.  For new demons, so to speak, who lack experience, there is a special course of four lessons:

  1. The first lesson describes the psychology of a temptation. The Dark One instructs:  “Remember that there are three stages for an effective temptation:  first, the suggestion itself; it’s easy to insinuate the temptation in the mind of those who are weak. Then, secondly, the victim, when he considers the suggestion, enjoys the pleasure:  here one can work quite efficiently.  If you’re able to deceive the victim to this point, the third moment will immediately follow:  the consent of the will.  Learn well what I’ve told you!”
  2. The second lesson is more specialized; it’s not for beginners, but rather for demons who have acquired some more experience. Again, the Dark One says: “Attentively observe people’s behavior.  Unfortunately, we cannot read their hearts, we can’t see their minds, but we can watch their gestures, their words, and every last sign which indicates to us their weak spot.  Then, attack!”
  3. The attack takes place with a bow and arrow. Therefore, the third lesson is an exercise on how to handle the bow so as to precisely hit the bull’s eye.
  4. Finally, after all of this training, if the demons have been good students, they will receive the fourth lesson, eight special arrows which correspond to the eight vices: gluttony, lust, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness (acedia), vainglory, and pride.  The art of temptation is to observe well the behavior of the victim to find his weak point, introducing an appealing temptation, then choosing the right arrow, and fire!

On the other hand, the Christian’s “internship” or “training” is a bit more demanding.  Even here, though, there are four principle movements:

  1. The first moment is Baptism, when one enrolls in the army of Christ, the true King. The rite calls for the renunciation of Satan, and the new Christian gets anointed as a preparation for the battle.  Moreover, for a more serious training, we need the Lenten instruments of prayer, fasting, and good works.
  2. The second step requires some time. One must learn to recognize the enemy, carefully observing his behavior.  And more than just the demons, we ourselves are our own chief enemy, and so we must have a good awareness of ourselves, to understand our weak points, where the enemy will surely mount an attack.
  3. After that, the third stage of training is when we receive the armor of God in order to resist the wiles of the devil: the shield of faith, with which one can extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one, the helmet of salvation, and above all, the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God (cf. Eph 6:11-17).  A good understanding of the word of God is essential for the fourth stage of Christian formation.
  4. As the enemy attacks us with one of the eight arrows, we need to be able to not only block the arrows, but also we need to turn them around on him.

Now, we’ve arrived at the crux of our reflection.  In today’s Gospel, what was the strategy of our Lord in resisting the temptations of the devil?  Let’s imitate his example!  He took the arrows fired at him from the devil, and, with a passage from Scripture, Christ threw them back towards his adversary.

  • Let’s consider the arrow of gluttony:  after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was hungry.  From his treasure of biblical passages, the Lord blocked the temptation from the devil:  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4).
  • Then, the arrow of vainglory:  If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down! (Mt 4:6).  And the Lord chose from his quiver the right word:  You shall not tempt the Lord your God! (Mt 4:7).
  • Finally, the diabolic arrow of pride:  Satan quite pompously says: all these [the kingdoms of the world] I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me! (Mt 4:8-9).  And the Lord, using his proven strategy, responds:  Begone, Satan!  You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve (Mt 4:10).

And so, the devil, having been defeated, leaves our Lord, and then the angels came and ministered to him.

The Art of the Spiritual Battle

In the spiritual battle, we can imitate our Lord:  we can use passages from Holy Scripture as our shield against the arrows of the enemy, and even use the arrows to fire back at the demons who attack us.

  • Against the spirit (or logismos) of gluttony, as we have already heard in today’s Gospel: man shall not live by bread alone (Mt 4:4).
  • Against the spirit of lust: We must, therefore, guard thus against evil desires, because death hath his station near the entrance of pleasure (RB 7:24).
  • Against the logismos of avarice: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Lk 12:34).
  • Against the spirit of anger: do not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph 4:26).
  • Against the logismos of dejection: why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God (Ps 42:5)
  • Against the spirit of listlessness (or acedia): for you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised (Heb 10:36).
  • Against the logismos of vainglory: But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people (Ps 22:6).
  • And finally, against the spirit of pride: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner (cf. Lk 18:13).

The arrows which I’ve just demonstrated are simply examples.  There is a whole patristic literary tradition on this topic (see Evagrius of Ponticus, Talking Back:  Antirrhetikos), and meditating on Holy Scripture, each one of us can find verses more adapted for our own personal battle.

If we force ourselves to take seriously the demands of the spiritual battle, then we might conclude that we aren’t well-prepared because we don’t know Holy Scripture very well.  But, if we aren’t prepared, the enemy will win.  Therefore, Lent is a period of grace, given to us by the Church, in which we can begin, or take up again more seriously, this spiritual training.

(English translation of an Italian homily from a Benedictine monk.)

Vocations, Liturgy, and ad orientem

Thanks to His Excellency, Bishop Conley for some wonderful thoughts on vocations, liturgy (including the Extraordinary Form), and the importance of ad orientem (facing liturgical east).  Here’s a recent interview he gave to Catholic World Report:

The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska has become well-known in recent years for its high number of priestly vocations relative to its small size; it also has a reputation as a bastion of orthodoxy and liturgical excellence in the Latin Rite. Bishop James Conley, the bishop of Lincoln since 2012, was among the attendants of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ (FOCUS) SLS 18 conference in Chicago earlier this month. His Excellency graciously made time to answer a few questions about the reasons his diocese is thriving.

Nicholas LaBanca, for CWR: I’d like to center our conversation today on how young people in the Church have begun to discover the riches of their liturgical patrimony in the Latin Rite. We can’t fail to observe that your diocese has consistently produced many vocations to the priesthood; the Diocese of Lincoln saw 17 men ordained to the priesthood in a two-year period, outpacing much larger archdioceses like Los Angeles, for instance. What would you say has contributed to this relative boom of priestly vocations in your diocese?

Bishop James Conley: Well there’s a lot of reasons for that, I believe. Grace, lots of grace, obviously. But I’d say one of the several things that we can directly attribute this to is the episcopal leadership. We’ve had basically 40-plus years of good bishops. Two of my most immediate predecessors come to mind: Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who was bishop of Lincoln for 20 years, and Bishop Glennon Flavin, who was bishop for about 22 years [beginning in] 1967. So in those turbulent post-conciliar years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, we had our diocese led by bishops who really were very clear in their teaching and were very faithful to the Magisterium and what the Church’s patrimony was as far as doctrine goes. And [also] the liturgy. You know the revolution after the Second Vatican Council took many shapes and forms. You had the sexual revolution but you also had the liturgical revolution, you had the doctrinal revolution, everything was up for grabs.

In Lincoln, they steered a steady course and so there was never any liturgical aberrations. The priests were told very clearly that they would follow and would celebrate the Mass the way the Church wants it celebrated, and there were no exceptions to that. As far as teaching goes, the schools and the priests taught very sound doctrine. And the result is two things. One, our vocations stayed steady. So even though I’ve had the privilege of ordaining I think about 25 men in the last five years since I’ve been to Lincoln, we still have the highest number of seminarians per Catholic in the country. We have 96,000 Catholics and we have currently 39 seminarians. We’re a small diocese. But the result of that leadership—and I have inherited that so I don’t attribute that to myself at all, I just don’t want to mess it up. I want to keep it going. But I really have been the beneficiary of the great leadership of those two bishops. The result has been those vocations. Success breeds success. We have 146 active priests in the Diocese of Lincoln and the average age is 41. That’s more than 20 years younger than I am. So I’m the old guy in the diocese.

And when you have all these young priests who are in the parishes, and in the schools, and in the university, then young people see an example of religious life. And we have religious sisters. Bishop Flavin started a community of school sisters who teach in our schools, School Sisters of Christ the King. I just elevated them to the level of a diocesan rite, and they continue to teach. Four of them are principals in our grade schools and they teach in our grade schools. We have 37 religious sisters in full habit teaching in our schools and we have 48 priests that are either administrators or teaching in our schools. So Catholic education has been a very important part of the success of the Diocese of Lincoln. So to summarize: liturgy and worship, where people feel that when they come to Mass, they are in contact with the Transcendent. This is where I think Sacred Liturgy is so important.

You talked about our patrimony. We have this rich liturgical tradition and you go back throughout the history of the Church. What is the Sacred Liturgy supposed to do? Sacred Liturgy is supposed to put us in contact with the transcendent God. We’re supposed to have an experience of the holy. That’s what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is. That’s why the Lord said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And the beauty of that experience, the beauty of the music, the beauty of the worship and the reverence and the piety—it takes people out of the everyday, mundane world that we live in. A lot of suffering and hardship. And they have this contact for a while with the holy. And that’s key. People have to be nourished. Our souls desire contact with the holy. If we’re deprived of that, we wither away, and so we need that.

People, when they discover it, need more of it. So one of the initiatives I’m trying to promote is Eucharistic Adoration, in as many of our parishes as we can. Because when we come before our Lord and His Eucharistic face—the Sacrament of Divine Friendship as it’s sometimes called—our Lord’s heart speaks to our hearts. And we need those moments. There are very few places left today where we can be relatively certain that we’re not going be interrupted. And a Eucharistic Adoration chapel—as long as you turn your phone off—is one of the last places, one of the last oases of silence. People need that. Here at SLS 18…and also youth retreats and Engaged Encounter and all the different apostolates of the Church—and in applications for seminaries—people say that where they really heard the Lord speak to their hearts was in the quiet moments of Eucharistic Adoration. People in parishes whose marriages are falling apart—they go before the Lord, and they’re just in shambles—they let the Lord speak to them and heal them. This is where it all happens. That’s why Eucharistic Adoration is so important.

CWR: I’m happy that you had brought up the subject transcendence in the liturgy. You’ve been celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass ad orientem each Advent for several years now, and several other priests have done the same in your diocese, and around the country as well. This past summer, I was able to sit down with a Byzantine Rite priest, Father Thomas Loya of the Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy in Parma. We had talked about ad orientem worship and the life of the Church. In the course of our conversation, he had noted that turning the altars back around is of the upmost importance, and that doing so was “holding the key to everything in the Latin Rite Church.”  Do you believe that in worshiping ad orientem, laypeople and priests alike are more apt to feel that they are being lifted up to partake in the Heavenly Liturgy?

Bishop Conley: I do agree with that, and I’ve experienced that in my own priesthood. Way back in the 1990s I was chaplain at Wichita State University. And I, during Advent one year, began celebrating ad orientem, facing east, with the Advent theme of looking to the east and the star and everything. I just continued to do it…I did catechesis and I explained to everyone why this tradition has been so prevalent in the Church, just up until recent times, and how we are all worshiping together. We’re all facing the Lord together and the priest is leading us to the New Jerusalem, to Heaven. We stand in solidarity with one another, offering worship to God. It’s not the priest facing the people and speaking to them, it’s all of us facing God. So I’ve always been a big fan of ad orientem. When I came to Lincoln, I introduced it at the cathedral for Advent and I encouraged priests. I said, “If you believe that this would help you and your people, by all means do this as long as you give the catechesis and explain it to the people.” So like you said, we have a number of pastors who have done that. I do it now every time I celebrate Mass at the cathedral, at the Newman Center, at our seminary, and at our retreat house. And I don’t force it. And there are some times you can’t do it because architecturally it’s hard. But it’s catching on more and more. And I think the people really do respond to that. I think as a priest, we think it’s going to be really shocking to people, and it’s not. People are just like, “Fine, Father.” The funny thing is, you end up facing the people during a normal Mass longer than you don’t face them. Because you begin the Mass, and you do the Introductory Rite, and the readings, and the homily, and then you go to the altar. I timed it once. It’s basically three-fifths of the time you’re facing the people, two-fifths of the time you’re facing the altar.

CWR: Pretty much just for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Bishop Conley: That’s it. And when you’re giving Communion, you’re facing the people. But I would agree that it’s very helpful for the priest because it’s less distracting for the priest. He’s focused on really the most important thing that he’s doing—the most important thing that he ever does—and that is offering the Holy Sacrifice. And when you’re focused on the action of the Mass and that’s all you see—over the Host and the Precious Blood—then you’re more tuned in, than I think when you’re facing the whole congregation of people. Not that you can’t be focused in that way. You can. But it’s harder. You have to concentrate more.

CWR: Now you mentioned that for priests, and for laypeople, returning to certain traditions has been both helpful and warmly received. But let’s talk specifically about young people—do you believe that they are more open to the liturgical patrimony of the Latin Rite than older generations? Have you seen an uptick in the amount of young people embracing these Latin traditions in the past five or 10 years?

Bishop Conley: Well, one example, just a couple weeks ago during Advent, one of our priests celebrated a Rorate caeli Mass. A Saturday morning Mass at 6:00 am, in the dark, just candlelit, in the Extraordinary Form. It was a Solemn High Mass and they had the choir. Four hundred and fifty college students showed up for that.

It was amazing. I thought, fine, go ahead, you’re not going to get college students up at six o’clock in the morning. But the word went out on Facebook and Twitter, and they all showed up. They said it was amazing because they had this beautiful choir singing sacred polyphony and chant. They loved it. They had a great experience of the transcendent and the holy.

CWR: What advice would you give to young people who are really trying to uncover and share their legitimate traditions and patrimony, in indifferent or possibly even hostile environments?

Bishop Conley: I would say to be patient, and to pray, and to not give up. I think that sometimes it’s hard, especially for priests, to be open to some of the great liturgical traditions that, maybe in their minds, the Church has put aside. But I can tell you this [about] the younger generation of priests, those priests that have been ordained in the last 10 years, let’s say: it’s my generation that is not open; the younger generation is open. And that means that younger bishops are open. Because so go priests, so go bishops. There’s going to be a whole new generation of bishops that are going to be serving the Church as shepherds in the next 10 years who are also much more open to this great liturgical patrimony, and who have not sort of been through the liturgical wars like those in my generation have. So, I think, just be patient, be kind, be charitable, but be persistent.

The original article was found here.

The Season of Septuagesima: A Preparation for the Preparation

Because Easter Sunday is early this year, Lent comes early (starting on February 14th with Ash Wednesday), and thus the Season of Septuagesima begins oddly before the Feast of the Purification.  What is Septuagesima and why is it important?

Septuagesima and Lent are both times of penance, Septuagesima being a time of voluntary fasting in preparation for the obligatory Great Fast of Lent. The theme is the Babylonian exile, the “mortal coil” we must endure as we await the Heavenly Jerusalem. Sobriety and somberness reign liturgically; the Alleluia and Gloria are banished.

The Sundays of Septugesima are named for their distance away from Easter:

  • The first Sunday of Septuagesima gives its name to the entire season as it is known as “Septuagesima.” “Septuagesima” means “seventy,” and Septuagesima Sunday comes roughly seventy days before Easter. This seventy represents the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity. It is on this Sunday that the alleluia is “put away,” not to be said again until the Vigil of Easter.
  • The second Sunday of Septuagesima is known as “Sexagesima, which means “sixty”. Sexagesima Sunday comes roughly sixty days before Easter.
  • The third Sunday of Septuagesima is known as “Quinquagesima,” which means “fifty” and which comes roughly fifty days before Easter.

Quadragesima means “forty,” and this is the name of the first Sunday of Lent and the Latin name for the entire season of Lent.

Throughout this short Season of Septuagesima – and the next Season of Lent – you will notice a deepening sense of penance and somberness, culminating in Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent), that will suddenly and joyously end at the Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday when the alleluia returns and Christ’s Body is restored and glorified.

Slightly modified and taken from Fish Eaters.

Marian Antiphons: Ave Regina Caelorum

Throughout the year, the Church prays different Marian Antiphons based on the proper liturgical season.  We’ll post the current Antiphon throughout the year:

Advent/Christmas:  Alma Redemptoris Mater
Lent:  Ave Regina Caelorum
Easter: Regina Caeli
Pentecost:  Salve Regina

Here’s a great article about the different seasons, highlighting the Ave Regina Caelorum, which is sung from February 2nd (Purification/Candlemas) until the Easter Vigil.

The four Marian Antiphons have traditionally been sung at the end of Compline – each one during a particular season of the Church Year.   Ave, Regina Caelorum is the antiphon sung from Purification/Candlemas (February 2) until the Easter Vigil.

Here’s a video of the antiphon sung to the Simple Tone by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey at Ganagobie. Chant score from the Liber Usualis (1961), p. 278.  (English translation below.)

Here’s the chant score of the Simple Tone version, from the Liber Usualis:


This translation was done for our monastery by Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio, president of the Philadelphia Latin Liturgy Association:

Hail, queen of heaven, hail lady of the angels. Hail, root, hail the door through which the Light of the world is risen. Rejoice, glorious Virgin, beautiful above all. Hail, O very fair one, and plead for us to Christ.

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