Saturday, August 28, 2010

Patroness of Chile

Praying for the 33 trapped miners.  Did you know Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is patroness of Chile?

Consider your own calling...



Humility.
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Sometimes I've heard myself or another say things like, "I gave this up or that up and returned to the Church."  As if our conversion was from our own initiative - or our own doing.  Likewise we can sometimes think to ourselves, or even announce to others, that we came to believe by some "intellectual assent" - as if we suddenly got our degree after having learned, all on our own, that God is God, and Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  However, today's first reading from Mass corrects that notion.
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"Consider your own calling... not many of you were wise by human standards, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.  Rather. God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak and the lowly and despised and those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God." - 1 Cor 1:26-31
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And if we are tempted to exalt ourselves even about any role we may have in shaming the wise, St. Paul reminds us, "It is due to him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus" in the first place.  God first chose us - we didn't first chose Him at all.  Hence, we really have nothing we can pride ourselves about, ever.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Urkel!

Fr. Euteneuer of Human Life International has announced his return to parish ministry.


"Father Euteneuer, leader of Human Life Int., asked by bishop to return to diocese..."
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I came across the 'breaking' headline - albeit without link or follow up - on Spirit Daily.  The actual news is that Fr. Euteneuer of Human Life International is returning to parish ministry.  I found the complete story on Deacon For Life Blog, it is a letter by/from Fr. Euteneuer, explaining this new obedience in his ministry.
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Dear Friends of Life:

Nearly ten years ago I answered the call of the Lord to come to Human Life International and work full-time in pro-life work with the permission of my bishop. I have been utterly privileged to serve this great mission for a decade, and now I am called back to my diocese to continue my priestly service in parish work, which was the original calling of my vocation. A priest is a soldier of Christ and the Church, and obedience is the primary virtue of his state in life, but for my part, my discernment about this decision tells me that this is the right thing for me to do and at the right time. I have great peace about the road that lies ahead and about all that has been accomplished up to this point.
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I do not have a parish assignment in my diocese as of yet, but I hope to take some time out before I go back into full-time parish work. I expect that some time of rest and renewal will help me to make the transition. It has been 15 years since I last had any significant time for renewal, and after traveling more than 1.1 million miles, authoring two books, visiting 58 countries and making thousands of public appearances, I am ready for a break! I intend to continue to do pro-life work wherever I may be called to serve, and my bishop agrees that this is a vital charism of my priestly life. A true pro-lifer is not oriented to a job so much as to the daily task of fighting the culture of death and building the culture of life!
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I ask for your kind prayers as I move forward and for your continued support of HLI and the new leadership that will come soon. I will not be a stranger to HLI's mission or life but I promise that I will remember each of you every day in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the font of all unity and LIFE! - Full Letter.
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It will be interesting to watch how much will be made of this story online.

Got oil?


Foolish virgins...
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So the wise virgins wouldn't share their oil and the foolish ones had to go buy more and when they got back the bridegroom already arrived and the wise virgins had already gone into the wedding banquet and the doors were locked.  There stood the foolish ones, suddenly realizing they were persona non grata.
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"Well I'll be damned!"  Sister Sue exclaimed.
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"You got that right!"  Sister Lisa responded.

Seriously, these girls were all in the same virgin's club, perhaps even on the same committees, in the same parish, or part of the same prayer group, some affiliated with the same religious order - maybe a couple were associates - but that doesn't matter.  They were friends - one or two possibly even relatives.  And yet half of them left their sisters in the dark when the celebration began.  That's just cold.  These ladies also sacrificed their whole life as virgins, wearing horribly unfashionable clothes, and participating in church stuff all of the time, helping out in the parish, making sandwiches for loaves and fishes, working in the homeless shelter, even going to daily Mass...  I don't get it.  What did the foolish virgins neglect?

"Love cannot be lived minimally."  - Mother Teresa to Cardinal Camstri

Trying to defend his case at the time, Fr. Camstri told Mother Teresa that he thought she was going to ask him how much charity he did. She answered him, "And do you think if I didn’t pray I would be able to love the poor? It’s Jesus that puts love in my heart when I pray."
She helped the poor, but it was "always Jesus’ love," the saintly sister told him.
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Then, Mother told him something that he would never forget: she told him to read Scripture.
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Through Jesus’ teachings, she said, we are reminded that "without God we’re too poor to help the poor.” This, she explained, "is why so much assistance falls into the void. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t contribute anything because it doesn’t bring love and it isn’t born of prayer." - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta saved Car. Castri's priesthood

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Art:  Wise and Foolish Virgins - 1919-20, by Charles Haslewood Shannon
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Note:  If I have been scarce online it is because I've had to stock up on my own oil supply.  Let's pray for one another while we still can.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loving our enemies.



"Treat others the way you would have them treat you."  [Mt. 7: 12]
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"In Carmel of course, we have no enemies..."  We just have natural antipathies... - or something like that.  I often recall that leading phrase from - if I remember correctly - a chapter on charity in Story of A Soul, written by St. Therese of Lisieux, whenever I catch myself being uncharitable in my thoughts, words, or deeds.  I added the part about natural antipathies - but Therese mentions that underlying factor someplace in her treatise as well.  Oftentimes - in my book - natural antipathies are frequently related to issues of jealousy, envy, resentment, and so on.  If you are like me, you are loathe to admit such vices reside in your heart - but they most likely do if you are human.
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"From the heart stem evil desires." - [Mt. 15:19]
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Whenever I come to realize - by the grace of God - that I can be eaten away by these vices, I am devastated; since my entire facade - which is really self-love and self-righteousness masquerading as virtue - starts to crumble before my eyes.  It seems to me these predispositions to sin are among those which Christ referred to when he condemned the Pharisees as being white-washed tombs, filled with dead men's bones.  As a blogger, how often I have found myself, watching a particular public figure, political or religious, sometimes investigating him, searching for some fault or proof of unworthiness for his reputation and popularity; straining the gnat to find the least hint of heresy or scandal.  It isn't that I consciously set out to do it - so I tell myself - and since I've blogged about this or that error in the past, there must be something more to add to the story.  I think some other bloggers may have found themselves in a similar situation - even some who may not like me.  
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Perhaps we are simply trying to justify our natural antipathy - albeit not recognizing our underlying motivation.  Sin passes itself off as something good, what we mistake for virtue or zeal is at times vice.
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"Offer no resistance to injury...  Give to the man who begs from you." [Mt. 5: 39,42]
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Considering these matters, I'm reminded of the Gospel story of the Merciless Official, who was forgiven his debt by his master after pleading with him to be patient with him.  Having been forgiven his entire debt, the official leaves and encounters a servant who owes the official much less than he owed his master.  (Perhaps the official harbored some sort of natural antipathy towards this particular servant?)  The official, assured of his new found innocence, self-righteously condemns the debtor and exacts punishment for his debt...  We all know the rest of the story. 
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On one level, the story is about forgiveness of course, but I think more deeply, the story demonstrates how easily we can take for granted our own state of grace, forgetting we may have been guilty of greater sins than those we notice - or look for - in our neighbor.  What a scary thing it would be if those past sins of ours were to be exposed and known by all... and though forgiven by God, we are condemned by all who hear of it.  Even more so, what a terrible betrayal of mercy and love when we fail to forgive another, or motivated by natural antipathy, we act like watchmen searching the streets and alley-ways by night, looking for more evidence to condemn the unwary culprit.
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Art:  This depiction by Domenico Fetti (c. 1620) shows the unforgiving servant choking the other debtor.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You thought you were rich and had need of nothing...


The prayer of the proud man...
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Such was the prayer of the Pharisee in the Temple (cf. Saint Luke 18:10). He was not looking at God, he was looking at himself, and he expected God to do the same. The condemnation of the meek and humble Saviour of this ‘other’ is well known. It showed all too clearly what our Lord thought of such an attitude, which the commentators on the Gospel do not always make enough of.
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Our Lord's words were devastating: ‘I say to you: this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other’ (Saint Luke 18:14). The prayer of the Pharisee followed the line of his thought. He assumed a place of preference on earth, and seemed to think he would occupy the same in heaven. The contrast between himself and the publican, the only representative of the human race present, showed up his superiority. Jesus took up the comparison but, with one word, turned the tables on the proud Pharisee. But what a word! He is now simply one who knew not how to achieve his being by freeing himself from himself and entering into the truth of God.
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You thought you were rich and had need of nothing, and knew not that you were wretched and miserable, poor and blind and naked (cf. Revelation 3:17). - Dom Augustin Guillerand: Excerpt from Secret Harbor blog.

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Art: Old Beggar With Boy - Pablo Picasso, 1903

Foxes in the hen-house.


I changed my mind about this post - I'm not liking the direction the blog has taken lately - it's pulling me down.  Cool image of the fox amongst chickens though, isn't it?
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(Just so you know, I edited this at 3:01 AM.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Religious Women in T's and Capris: Making Vatican II Irrelevant.


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
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When religious orders get rid of Superiors, Reverend Mothers and Mothers General - they get a leadership conference of equals - with no leadership.  Thus explains the chaos of women religious congregations enlisted in the LCWR.  No leadership - no followers = no vocations.
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A friend sent me an NCR article dated August 12 on the LCWR speaker Richard Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo, and his address to the 750 U.S. women religious leaders gathered for the conference.  The theologian told them, "You are on an ecclesial tight rope with no net" as he praised their adventurous risk-taking in pursuance of  'creative fidelity', otherwise known as dissent.
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Working without a net.
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Drawing on his theological background and basing his talk on lessons learned by studying the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Gaillardetz said he was appearing before the women not to recommend concrete responses to recent Vatican interventions into the LCWR organization and women’s communities, but rather to guide them to act with “creative fidelity,” a hallmark, he said, that has characterized professed religious life in the U.S. over the least five decades.
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“The people of God are watching you, looking for a way forward in their own ecclesial difficulties. As I am sure you know, you are not the only ones experiencing the pain of ecclesial tensions. There are other faithful Catholics who struggle with abuses in ecclesiastical authority on many fronts. They know well of certain bishops who chose the protection of abusing priests over the protection of victims. They see young clerics who emerge from the seminary more preoccupied with their own ontological uniqueness, clerical garb and proper title than with the genuine pastoral needs of God’s people. They suffer under an enforced Eucharistic fast necessitated by a decision to place the weight of longstanding practice above the sacramental needs of the people of God. They find themselves ashamed when one of their most precious convictions, the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death, is effaced by church actions that suggest that the rights of the unborn eclipse the rights of the already born.”
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The theologian continued: “Many of us in the church are doing today what we have done for so long, looking for you to show us a way forward. We are looking for you to model what authentic discipleship looks like in the face of ecclesial conflict. As catechetical leaders are wont to say, this is a teachable moment.” - Women Religious

I'm not looking at these women or taking instruction from any of them.  The majority of these women are  amongst that dying breed of dissidents who have made Vatican Council II irrelevant.  Maybe Gaillardetz was a good student under their tutelage, but his speech does little more than flattering the vanity of elderly women.
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'Ecclesial dysfunction' - exploiting their interpretation of battered wife syndrome.
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However, he noted that “in the current situation it is getting very difficult to avoid the impression that we are now veering dangerously close to an instance of ecclesial dysfunction. If this is the case, then it suggests that the ecclesial tensions you are experiencing in the present moment may have a significance that goes well beyond your own circumstances.
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“The increasingly dysfunctional character of the current tensions,” he said, “appears more likely to be the result of a failure (by the bishops) to recognize the distinct and complementary role of professed religious life within the life of the church.”
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Vatican II taught that professed religious do not belong to the church hierarchy, he said. “This means that the unique contributions of professed religious cannot be subsumed under the magisterium’s own responsibility to make fidelity to the apostolic heritage its singular concern.” - Women Religious experiences have implications for the entire Church

See what I mean by "making Vatican II irrelevant?"
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H/T Paula 

Without guile.


Nathaniel (Bartholomew) must have been an extraordinary fellow even for Jesus, since our Lord remarked, "This man is a true Israelite.  There is no guile in him." [Jn 1:47]  (I like the word guile better than duplicity.)
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It seems to me it is the rare bishop today the Lord could say that about.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Double talk: Bishop Armando Ochoa of El Paso rebukes Fr. Rodriquez.



And what a queer rebuke.
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Last week I watched a clip of Fr. Rodriquez interviewed on television, he was very reasonable, balanced, and very Catholic.  A young priest dressed in his cassock, he defended Catholic teaching as it related to his statements regarding abortion and homosexuality, and he did so with the utmost charity.  Now the bishop of El Paso has rebuked this priest for teaching Catholic doctrine. 
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How often do our bishops rebuke dissident priests and religious for their teaching?  I've often wondered why the bishops have never come off as strongly about these critical moral issues as Fr. Rodriguez has?  How many of our bishops actually support homosexuality?  In my last post, Fr. James Martin's support of homosexuality is brought into question, but I have to wonder how many bishops lend their support as well?
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“Abortion and homosexual acts are unequivocally intrinsic moral evils.”  - Fr. Michael Rodriguez
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Bishop Armando Ochoa of El Paso has rebuked a diocesan priest who wrote that “every single Catholic, out of fidelity to charity and truth, has the absolute duty to oppose (1) the murder of unborn babies, and (2) any and all government attempts to legalize homosexual unions.”
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“I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect,” Father Michael Rodriguez had added in his August 2 El Paso Timescolumn. “At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.”

And yet the bishop sees it another way?
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“I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Ochoa responded in an August 22 El Paso Timescolumn. “The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn … Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them.” - Read on. 

So the bishop is telling the faithful this priest is teaching his personal opinion?  What can be more divisive or confusing than that?  Something is off here.
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Quote of the day:

Bishops “need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the newly-appointed prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, in an interview this week.

Does Fr. Martin S.J. Support Homosexuality?



Well what do you think?
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Broadway, actors; his ministry to theater people and stuff.  Yeah, he probably does.  Well probably not so much supports the life style, but rather the people who identify as such.  I'm sure he graciously welcomes those who seek to live according to Church teaching as well.  (At least I hope so.)
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Links:
Fr. Martin's post:  Dr. Laura and Leviticus
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BTW - Since Dr. Laura is leaving, maybe Fr. Z could take over her time-slot.  He would be great.  I've always said he needs a radio show.
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H/T Pewsitternews
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Photo:  Fr. Martin

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How I feel tonite...


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Seriously.  I can't talk to my family. 

Sunday quick thoughts...


... family affair.

I talked to my sister last night, so I'll be back in therapy all week. 
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Kidding. 
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Or am I?
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Anyway, when she drinks, the secrets all come out - TMI.  Dysfunctional families have a way of making other family members and outsiders feel like they are the bad people, or the 'messed up' ones with all the problems, and yet, and yet...  Of course my sister had no intention of doing that last night while I was on the phone with her for 2 hours.  (And people wonder why I don't answer the phone or do call backs.)  But she was quite candid about her own family and I thought to myself, "Okay.  Okay.  So I thought everyone was blissfully happy, without any problems?"  I didn't say that of course, but...
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So anyway, my sister told me about some close calls that took her to the emergency room over the summer - she's fine now, but she was in the hospital a couple of days.  "I knew it!  I will read about your death in the obituaries after you are already buried."  No one tells me anything.  Then we talked about end of life issues and I asked if she thought of calling a priest when she was in the hospital and she said, "What for?"  And I said, "To make your confession you..."  And she started to protest but then she forgot what we were talking about and changed the subject.  Gosh!
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It kills me how people refuse to believe me when I write things on this blog about what Christ infers in today's Gospel - that not everyone will be saved - which means, not everyone is just automatically going to heaven because they 'feel good about themselves'"I haven't killed anybody."  Whatever. 
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In today's Gospel Christ's response to the question, "Is it true few will be saved?"  He doesn't say no, nor does he discourage the notion, but he tells the questioners quite earnestly, "try to enter through the narrow gate".  "Try" - You have to try!  If you don't try, you don't have much of a chance.  Yeah - really.
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Although, lest everyone of us be completely discouraged, elsewhere, after Peter protests, "Well then who can be saved?"  Jesus responds, "All things are possible for God."
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But good Lord, call a priest if you're in your late 60's and in the hospital for heart problems.  And if you persist in thinking everyone goes to heaven "because my God is nice", then crack open another bottle. 
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Protestant Catholicism: Going up for a blessing at Communion time.


And now, another edition of "Mass Chat"...
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Fr. Z has posted helpful advice on the strange novelty of everyone getting up at Communion time and going forward to receive either the Eucharist, or a blessing.  His post should be developed into official guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion and printed on the back covers of Missalettes. 
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It always annoys me when I see lay EMHCs (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) bless little kids or anyone else who approaches communion with their arms folded over their chest because for whatever reason they are not able to receive the sacrament.  Some EMHCs touch children's heads in blessing while others pretend to offer a priestly blessing - laity can bless, but it is not the same as a priestly blessing - yet they do it anyway.  Crossing one's arms over one's breast is the Byzantine manner of receiving Holy Communion anyway.  In the Latin rite it is a sentimental novelty of recent development, and in the United States I believe it's probably an idea picked up from Evangelical Crusades or Pentecostal religious revivals, when everyone goes forward to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  Catholics already do that liturgically at the Creed.
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Fr. Z:  Letter - 'lay Communion minister wouldn't bless me'...

  • First, lay people who are helping to distribute Communion have no business giving blessings. Therefore, I am glad that the person didn’t attempt to bless you in the manner of a priest. Yours is a good example why lay ministers of Communion should never make the gesture of blessing in the manner of a priest. Such a practice confuses people, just as you were confused in the moment you described.

  • Second, it is a matter of debate whether blessings should be given at the Communion rail at all. I am of the opinion that they should not be. Holy Mass has its moment for a blessing: at the end. The time of Holy Communion is the time for Holy Communion, not for blessings even if they are from the deacon or priest.


So knock it off.

Ou est le suicide...


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Charles Haddon, 22, singer for Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, leapt to his death from a telecommunications mast behind the main stage at the Pukkelpop festival shortly after his band performed at the Belgian event which attracted sell out crowd this wekend.
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Twenty two years old.